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WPI 330.50 Employment Discrimination—Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy

6A WAPRAC WPI 330.50Washington Practice Series TMWashington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil

6A Wash. Prac., Wash. Pattern Jury Instr. Civ. WPI 330.50 (7th ed.)
Washington Practice Series TM
Washington Pattern Jury Instructions--Civil
April 2022 Update
Washington State Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions
Part XVI. Employment
Chapter 330. Employment Discrimination
WPI 330.50 Employment Discrimination—Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy
It is unlawful to terminate an employee [for refusing to commit an unlawful act] [for performing a public duty] [for exercising a legal right or privilege] [in retaliation for reporting employer misconduct].
Use this instruction when a plaintiff claims that a public policy was involved in a termination from employment. If the plaintiff's claim does not fall within one of the bracketed scenarios, a different instruction consistent with Gardner v. Loomis Armored, Inc. 128 Wn.2d 931, 941, 913 P.2d 377 (1996), may need to be drafted.
Three decisions of the Washington Supreme Court altered the Washington common law tort of wrongful termination in violation of a public policy: Becker v. Community Health Systems, 184 Wn.2d 252, 359 P.3d 746 (2015), Rose v. Anderson Hay & Grain Co., 184 Wn.2d 268, 358 P.3d 1159 (2015), and Rickman v. Premera Blue Cross, 184 Wn.2d 300, 358 P.3d 1153 (2015). These decisions effectively overruled Cudney v. ALSCO, Inc., 172 Wn.2d 524, 259 P.3d 244 (2011). Because of these cases, the focus of the claim is now on whether the employee is engaging in an activity protected by public policy and not whether there are alternate means of protecting or advancing the public policy at issue.
To support a claim, the termination may be direct, by an employer, or it may be constructive, when the employee believes it necessary to resign. Becker, 184 Wn.2d at 257. For the latter circumstance, see WPI 330.52 (Employment Discrimination—Constructive Discharge—Burden of Proof).
Whether a public policy is involved is a question of law to be decided by a court. Hubbard v. Spokane Cnty., 146 Wn.2d 699, 708, 50 P.3d 602 (2002), overruled on other grounds by Rose, 184 Wn.2d at 278–286.
[Current as of October 2020.]
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