CHARLES HAYNES v. FORMAC STABLES, INC.
Court: TN Supreme Court
Justin S. Gilbert, Chattanooga, Tennessee; Jonathan L. Bobbitt, Brentwood, Tennessee; and Jessica F. Salonus, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Charles Haynes.
James M. Glasgow Jr., Union City, Tennessee; Timothy R. Holton, Memphis, Tennessee; and Michael P. McGartland and Eugene E. Borchardt, Fort Worth, Texas, for the appellee, Formac Stables, Inc.
Robert D. Meyers, Ryan M. Skertich, and Brandon D. Pettes, Memphis, Tennessee, for the amicus curiae, the Tennessee Defense Lawyers Association
The plaintiff asserted claims for retaliatory discharge pursuant to both the common law and the Tennessee Public Protection Act, alleging that the owner of the employer had engaged in illegal conduct and had terminated the plaintiff’s employment when he acted as a whistleblower by complaining of the conduct to the owner. The trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims because, according to his own allegations, he had not reported the illegal activity to anyone other than the person responsible for the activity. The Court of Appeals affirmed. We hold that an employee must report an employer’s wrongdoing to someone other than the wrongdoer to qualify as a whistleblower, which may require reporting to an outside entity when the wrongdoer is the manager, owner, or highest ranking officer within the company. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.