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Missouri Supreme Court Adopts Contributing Factor Standard for Missouri Wrongful Termination Claims

Missouri Supreme Court Recognizes Public-Policy Exception to At-Will Employment Doctrine, Missouri Supreme Court Adopts Contributing Factor Standard for Missouri Wrongful Termination Claims

On February 9, 2010, the Missouri Supreme Court issued its opinion in Fleshner v. Pepose Vision Institute and found that the "contributing factor" analysis should be applied as the standard in Missouri wrongful termination claims under the public policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine. In that case, Fleshner was terminated for reporting the overtime violations of another employee to a Department of Labor investigator.

Fleshner appears to mark the first time the Missouri Supreme Court recognized the public-policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine. While the general rule allows at-will employees to be terminated for any reason or no reason at all, the public policy exception states "an at-will employee may not be terminated (1) for refusing to violate the law or any well-established and clear mandate of public policy… or (2) for reporting wrongdoing or violations of law to superiors or public authorities." The Court stated that if an employee is terminated for either reason, they will have a cause of action for wrongful discharge against their employer.

In choosing the "contributing factor" causation standard for the public policy exception, the Court adopted its anlaysis from Daugherty v. City of Maryland Heights successfully argued before the Missouri Supreme Court by the Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley. The Court determined that the adoption of the "contributing factor" language adopted in MAI 31.24 and used in Missouri Human Rights Act and Missouri discrimination claims was the appropriate standard.

The Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley's legal work before the Missouri Supreme Court developed the legal standard for defense and prosecution of Missouri wrongful termination claims. If you are an employer, part of management or human resources or an employee with additional questions regarding a wrongful termination, please feel free to contact Missouri Attorney Kevin J. Dolley directly at (314)645-4100.

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The Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley represents clients in labor law, employment law and employment discrimination matters throughout the State of Missouri, including St. Louis, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Boone County, Jefferson County, Lincoln County, Jackson County, Phelps County, Franklin County, Ste. Genevieve, St. Clair and the Cities of St. Louis, Kansas City, St. Charles, O'Fallon, Lake St. Louis, Hillsboro, Troy, Clayton, Rolla, Columbia, Jefferson City, Kirksville, Farmington, Cuba, Augusta, Union, Maryland Heights, Cape Girardeau and Springfield.

Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley, LLC - Missouri Employment Lawyer
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Phone: (314) 684-8180 | Local Phone: (314) 645-4100.