Martin Marietta Corp vs. Paul M. Lorenz
1. Applicable Law
The essence of the public-policy exception is that an employee will have a cognizable claim for wrongful discharge if the discharge of the employee contravenes a clear mandate of public policy. Claims for wrongful discharge under the public-policy exception have included termination of employees for: (1) refusal to participate in illegal activity, (2) the employee's refusal to forsake the performance of an important public duty or obligation, (3) the employee's refusal to forego the exercise of a job-related legal right or privilege, (4) the employee's "whistleblowing" activity or other conduct exposing the employer's wrongdoing, and (5) the employee's performance of an act that public policy would encourage under circumstances where retaliatory discharge is supported by evidence of employer's bad faith, malice, or retaliation. 2. Summary of the Facts
The case started with Mr. Lorenz a decorated mechanical engineer with 16 years experience in fracture mechanics and almost a doctorate in metallurgy joined Martin Marietta, a aerospace manufacturer and contractor for NASA, in 1972. Lorenz worked in Martin Marietta’s research and development department as a “principle investigator”. Lorenz was responsible for the organization and quality control of the projects assigned to him. In the fall of 1973, while working on the NDI Contract, Lorenz expressed his concern for a lack of adequate data for the project to be deemed safe. The supervisors of Lorenz were not happy with his comments. In 1974 Lorenz unhappy with the communication of his concerns to the client, approached NASA directly and revealed his concerns. This caused a meeting between all parties to take place and Lorenz was asked to take the minutes. Upon review of the minutes one of the managers asked Lorenz to modify the minutes to retract some of...