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Ray v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2015 UT 83 (September 17, 2015)

Sep 17, 2015

This case involves claims for wrongful termination by former Wal-Mart employees who were fired for being involved in physical altercations with shoplifters. The employees filed suit in federal district court, and the court certified the question to the Utah Supreme Court of whether self-defense is a substantial public policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine, thus providing a basis for a wrongful termination action. The Court answered yes – concluding that an at-will employee who is fired for exercising the right of self-defense may maintain a wrongful termination action, but only if the employee faced an imminent threat of serious bodily harm in circumstances where he or she was unable to safely withdraw.