Perkins v. Memorial Hospital of South BendAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment for Defendant and dismissing Plaintiff's wrongful termination claim, holding that the record did not support summary judgment in this case.
Plaintiff, a former at-will employee working as a police officer, was allegedly terminated for stealing food from the cafeteria. In this action, Plaintiff alleged that the true reason for his termination was adverse testimony he gave in an unemployment compensation appeal hearing on behalf of a former coworker. In granting summary judgment for Defendant, the trial court concluded that because Plaintiff was not subpoenaed to testify, his testimony did not fall within the public policy exception to at-will employment, which would have barred his firing. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) even though Plaintiff was not provided a paper subpoena before testifying, he was constructively compelled to testify once he was at the hearing; and (2) therefore, Plaintiff's testimony was protected under the public policy exception to at-will employment.