Taghivand v. Rite AidAnnotate this Case
The federal district court certified a question of South Carolina law to the South Carolina Supreme Court. Behrooz Taghivand was the manager of a Rite Aid store in a high crime area of North Charleston. While on duty, Taghivand observed a patron acting strangely and milling around the store with no apparent purpose. The patron stopped briefly in the section directly in front of the cashier, selected a few items, and made a purchase. After the patron checked out, the cashier told Taghivand that when the patron entered the store, he was carrying a bag that appeared to be empty but now had items in it. Taghivand instructed the cashier to call the police. An officer arrived at the scene and gathered together the items the patron claimed he purchased from the store, and Taghivand confirmed these as belonging to the patron. The officer also searched the patron's bag, and found it contained only dirty clothes. Taghivand was terminated effective that day, and was informed the incident was the reason for his termination. As a result, Taghivand filed this action against Rite Aid Corporation, Eckerd Corporation d/b/a Rite Aid, and Steve Smith in federal court for wrongful termination; the defendants moved to dismiss. After finding that South Carolina law was not clear on the issue raised by the motion to dismiss, the federal district court certified this question: under the public policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine in South Carolina, does an at-will employee have a cause of action in tort for wrongful termination where: (1) the employee, a store manager, reasonably suspects that criminal activity, specifically, shoplifting, has occurred on the employer's premises; (2) the employee, acting in good faith, reports the suspected criminal activity to law enforcement; and (3) the employee is terminated in retaliation for reporting the suspected criminal activity to law enforcement? After review, the South Carolina Supreme Court answered the certified question: no.