In Turner v. Anheuser Busch, Inc. the California Supreme Court held that James Turner's claim for constructive wrongful discharge in violation of public policy failed as a matter of law. The court held Turner could not show either objectively intolerable aggravated conditions on the job or that his employer violated public policy. Because Turner did not state a cognizable claim, the court reinstated the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Turner's employer AnheuserBusch, Incorporated (hereinafter "ABI"). In reaching this conclusion, the court significantly modified the constructive discharge test by no longer allowing a plaintiff to use the employer's constructive knowledge of intolerable or aggravated working conditions as an element of a constructive discharge claim. The court held that Turner could not prove a public policy violation in part because a significant amount of time had passed between Turner's whistle-blowing activities and his eventual resignation. Moreover, the majority found Turner's claim that his supervisors had used fabricated performance appraisals to force his resignation untenable primarily because the appraisals appeared valid on their face. Consequently, an employer may avoid a constructive discharge claim simply by either waiting some time before engaging in conduct designed to force an employer to resign, or by ensuring that any adverse treatment of employees is supported by negative performance appraisals.
Joseph A. Meckes,
Turner v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc.: California Supreme Court Provides Employers With a More Favorable Constructive Discharge Standard, 26 Golden Gate U. L. Rev.