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No Public Policy Violation for Firing Employee for Exercising Open Records Rights

Oklahoma high court held that an employer had the right to fire an at-will employee who demanded to see government records under the Open Records Act, which he had a right to see. The Act provides no employment-related rights, so the employee is not protected in employment.

Topic Employment Law
Key Words Employment-at-Will; Termination; Public Policy Exception; Open Records Act
C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Shero was an at-will employee of Grand Savings Bank. He was involved in litigation with the City of Grove, Oklahoma. Related to the litigation, which he won, he demanded to see certain documents of the city under the Oklahoma Open Records Act, which gives citizens the right of access to various public documents. The City complained to the Bank about Shero’s suit. The Bank told Shero to drop his request for City records under the Open Records Act. He refused and was fired. He sued for wrongful termination under the public policy exception to the presumption of employment-at-will. The district court dismissed his suit. He appealed.

Decision Affirmed. Employment at-will may be terminated without cause at any time without the employer incurring liability. There was no violation of public policy. The Open Records Act allows public inspection and copying of records in the possession of public officials, public bodies, or their representatives. A public official who violates the act may commit a misdemeanor, but the Act does not say anything about public policy and employment. Even if the termination was morally wrong, it does not violate public policy.
Citation Shero v. Grand Savings Bank, 161 P.3d 298 (Sup. Ct., Ok., 2007)

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