Smith v. American Greetings Corp.

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Smith v. American Greetings Corp.
by the Arkansas Supreme Court

Supreme Court of Arkansas

304 Ark. 596

Howard Smith III  v.  AMERICAN GREETINGS CORPORATION, an Ohio Corporation

Appeal from Mississippi Circuit Court

No. 90-261.---Delivered: Feb. 25, 1991. 

Court Documents
Opinion of the Court

  1. LABOR—EMPLOYMENT-AT-WILL DOCTRINE APPLIED.—The employment-at-will doctrine provides that a contract of employment for an indefinite term is terminable at the will of either party; an at-will employee may be discharged for good cause, no cause, or even a morally wrong cause so long as it does not violate public policy.
  2. MOTIONS—MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS—FACTS ALLEGED IN COMPLAINT TREATED AS TRUE.—In considering a motion for a judgment on the pleadings for failure to state facts upon which relief can be granted, the facts alleged in the complaint must be treated as true and viewed in the light most favorable to the party seeking relief.
  3. LABOR—EXCEPTION TO THE EMPLOYMENT-AT-WILL DOCTRINE IF PURSUING MATTER IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.—Where in a wrongful-discharge action an employee alleged the redress of a private wrong and not that he was pursuing some matter in the public interest, there was no exception to the employment-at-will doctrine, and the trial court properly ruled that the complaint did not state facts upon which relief could be granted.
  4. LABOR—EMPLOYMENT AT WILL—NO CAUSE OF ACTION—NO EXPRESS PROVISION SHOWN.—A statement in an employment handbook that the employer desired to provide maximum job security for its employees was not an express provision that employees could be discharged only for cause; therefore, an at-will employee failed to state a cause of action for wrongful discharge.
  5. TORTS—TORT OF OUTRAGE NOT PREDICATED ON THE FACT OF DISCHARGE ALONE.—A claim of the tort of outrage by an at-will employee cannot be predicated on the fact of discharge alone, but the manner in which the discharge is accomplished or the circumstances under which it occurs may render the employer liable.
  6. TORTS—EXTREME AND OUTRAGEOUS CONDUCT NECESSARY TO UPHOLD THE TORT OF OUTRAGE.—Where an at-will employee was discharged for provoking management personnel into a fight there was no showing by the employee of extreme and outrageous conduct necessary to support the tort of outrage or the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Appeal from Mississippi Circuit Court; Gerald Pearson, Judge; affirmed.

W. Hunter Williams Jr., for appellant.

Moore, Moore-Hart & Barton, by Tom A. Bennett and Janice Levin, for appellee.

[Opinion of the court by Justice ROBERT H. DUDLEY.]

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