Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Friday, December 27, 2002


Page 3


Worker Fired for Calling Sheriff Cannot Sue—C.A.


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Court of Appeal has upheld the scuttling of a lawsuit for wrongful termination brought by a man who was fired as general manager of a restaurant because he summoned sheriff’s deputies to remove a temperamental chef from the premises.

The firing, Acting Presiding Justice William F. Rylaarsdam said in an unpublished opinion for the Fourth District’s Div. Three, does not give rise to a cause of action based on any violation of public policy. The opinion, filed Monday, upholds a judgment of dismissal entered after Orange Superior Court Judge Derek W. Hunt sustained demurrers without leave to amend.

Rylaarsdam noted that under Foley v. Interactive Data Corp. (1988) 47 Cal.3d 654, a discharged employee, to state a cause of action, must identify a specific provision of the law that was breached by the firing. He set forth the spate of provisions cited by the plaintiff, Ron Openshaw, but scoffed:

“These constitutional, statutory, and regulatory provisions tend to relate in some manner, some rather tenuously, to safety.  By throwing this large number of provisions at us, appellant apparently hopes that something will stick.  But our Teflon hides are too slick.”

The jurist said that Openshaw was not fired “because he refused to engage in conduct in violation of these policies, provisions, statutes, or regulations.” To the contrary, Rylaarsdam observed, “[h]is employer’s conclusion that plaintiff demonstrated poor judgment by unnecessarily calling law enforcement into a restaurant during business hours probably provided the basis for his termination rather than the employer’s desire to encourage plaintiff in any violation of constitution, statute, or administrative regulation relating to public safety.”

The chef had ordered a waiter out of the kitchen, refused to prepare an order for the waiter’s customer, told another chef not to prepare the order, and yelled at Openshaw.

The case is Openshaw v. Luciana’s Ristorante, G030212.


Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company