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No Whistleblower Exception to Employment-at-Will in Virginia
Description The Virginia high court refused to recognize the claim by an inspector at a poultry plant that she was wrongfully discharged for telling government inspectors about her concerns regarding sanitation. Virginia does not recognize the whistleblower exception and the sanitation regulations provide no rights for the employee.
Topic Employment Law
Key Words Employment-at-Will; Wrongful Discharge; Public Policy; Whistleblower
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts April Dray worked at New Market Poultry Products as a quality control inspector. Her job was to make sure that no unsanitary products were distributed. She believed the sanitation was not sufficient and, besides complaining to the managers, told government inspectors of her concerns. She was told not to talk to the inspectors again, but she did, and was then fired. She sued for common law wrongful termination of employment in violation of public policy for her role as a whistleblower against her employer. Her suit was dismissed, she appealed to the Virginia high court.
Decision Affirmed. Dray seeks a whistleblower retaliatory discharge claim. "Such a claim has not been recognized as an exception to Virginia's employment-at-will doctrine, and we refuse to recognize it today." Dray notes that various statutes forbid the sale of unsanitary poultry products, but those statutes "do not secure any rights to this plaintiff.... Rather, the Act establishes a regulatory mechanism directed only to government inspectors and industry management."
Citation Dray v. New Market Poultry Products, Inc., 518 S.E.2d 312 (Sup. Ct., Va., 1999)

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