SW Legal Educational Publishing

Fired Employee Cannot Sue Other Employees for On-the-Job Statements
Description Dismissal of fired employee's suit against other employees for saying false things about him to employer upheld. Unless public policy is violated, on-the-job actions remain there. Any action must be against the employer.
Topic Torts
Key Words Employees, Personnel Actions
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Sheppard was fired as a pilot from Southwest Airlines following procedures in its collective bargaining agreement. He then sued various coworkers for various torts as they played various roles leading up to his dismissal. The trial court dismissed the case. Sheppard appealed.
Decision Affirmed. Except where there is a statutory exception "an employee or former employee cannot sue other employees based on their conduct relating to personnel actions." Here there was no violation of public policy. If there was wrongful termination, the action is against the employer under the doctrine of respondeat superior. "The interest in allowing all employees the freedom to act and speak in relation to personnel actions without the threat of debilitating litigation outweighs the risk that a few employees will act maliciously and go undetected by their employers." Sheppard's suit for libel may go forward, since that concerned claims of publication of defamatory information.
Citation Sheppard v. Freeman, ---Cal.Rptr.2d--- (1998 WL 726498, Ct. App., Calif.)
79 Cal.Rprt.2d 13 (Ct. App., Calif., 1998)

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