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Graham v. Albertson’s LLC, 2020 UT 15 (Mar. 31, 2020)

Mar 31, 2020

A plaintiff sued her former employer under a theory of common law wrongful termination. Applying the test laid out in Retherford v. AT&T Communications of Mountain States, Inc., 844 P.2d 949 (Utah 1992), the district court concluded that the Utah Occupational Safety and Health Act (UOSHA) preempted the plaintiff’s common law wrongful termination claim and granted partial summary judgment in favor of her employer. On interlocutory appeal, the supreme court reversed, holding that the trial court failed to account for specific language in UOSHA suggesting the legislature did not intend to preempt common law remedies. The court also noted that the two-part Retherford test “appears to skip a step” and clarified that a plaintiff must establish that she in fact has a valid common law claim before the court may apply Retherford to determine legislative intent to preempt.