88 Cal.App.4th 33
Charles STARZYNSKI, Plaintiff and Appellant,
CAPITAL PUBLIC RADIO, INC., Defendant and Respondent.
Court of Appeal, Third District.
March 29, 2001.
527*527 Biegler Ortiz & Chan, Robert P. Biegler, Sacramento, Jessee S. Ortiz III, for Plaintiff and Appellant. Meriam E. Hamilton, Lewis, D'Amato, Brisbois & Bisgaard, for Defendant and Respondent. 526*526 SIMS, Acting P.J.
Beginning in 1979, plaintiff Charles Starzynski was employed as program director for Sacramento radio stations KXPR and KXJZ, which are owned and operated by defendant Capital Public Radio, Inc. (CPR). Plaintiff was orally assured by his supervisor, Phil Corriveau, that plaintiffs employment could be terminated only for good cause. In December, 1991, plaintiff signed an "Employment At Will Contract And Acknowledgement Form," which expressly stated in part: "I understand and agree that my employment is AT WILL and that either KXPR/KXJZ or I may terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause or advance notice. I understand further that only the Board of Directors, by affirmative action, has the authority to change or make any agreement contrary to this at-will employment relationship." Three days alter plaintiff signed the agreement, his supervisor, Corriveau, again advised plaintiff that, notwithstanding the agreement, plaintiffs employment would not be terminated as long as his performance was satisfactory. Plaintiff resigned from employment in January, 1998. He later filed a complaint against CPR alleging wrongful discharge on the theories that CPR violated an implied contract of employment, that CPR violated an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and that plaintiff was constructively discharged when he resigned his employment because of intolerable working conditions. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of CPR, from which plaintiff appeals. We shall conclude that plaintiffs employment was at-will, that there was no implied contract between the parties, that plaintiff has no claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and that the at-will nature of plaintiffs employment precludes plaintiffs claim for wrongful discharge based on constructive discharge on account of intolerable working conditions. We shall therefore affirm the judgment.
I. Standard Of Review
Summary judgment is properly granted when there is no triable issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. (Code Civ. Proc, § 437c, subd. (c).) "A defendant or cross-defendant has met his or her burden of showing that a cause of action has no merit if that party has shown that one or more elements of the cause of action, even if not separately pleaded, cannot be established...." (Code Civ. Proc, 528*528 § 437c, subd. (o)(2); see also, Komano v. Rockwell Internal, Inc. (1996) 14 Cal.4th 479, 486-87, 59 Cal.Rptr.2d 20, 926 P.2d 1114.) Once the moving party defendant meets its burden, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to show a triable issue of material fact exists. (Code Civ. Proc, § 437c, subd. (o)(2).) On appeal, the reviewing court exercises its independent judgment, deciding whether undisputed facts have been established that negate the opposing party's claim or state a complete defense. (Romano, supra, at pp. 486-487, 59 Cal. Rptr.2d 20, 926 P.2d 1114; Villa v. McFerren (1995) 35 Cal.App.4th 733, 741, 41 Cal. Rptr.2d 719.) II. Breach Of Implied Contract
Plaintiff claims a triable issue of material fact exists with respect to his claim for breach of implied contract because, even though he signed the document acknowledging his employment was at-will, he received verbal assurances from his supervisor, Phil Corriveau, that his employment was secure as long as his performance remained satisfactory. We disagree. Labor Code section 2922 provides: "An employment, having no specified term, may...