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Posted by: Barry Kolar on Jul 31, 2014

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Paul L. McMillin, Knoxville, Tennessee, appellant, pro se.

Attorneys 2:

Jerome D. Pinn and Rebecca B. Murray, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellees, Ted Russell Ford, Inc., Ted Russell Management, Inc., Ted Russell, Gene Morris, Tim Shaw, and Stuart Brabston.

Judge(s): SUSANO

In 2011, for approximately four months, Plaintiff worked as a car salesman for Ted Russell Ford (“the dealership”) in Knoxville. After he was fired in November 2011, he brought this action against the dealership and others alleging, among other things, retaliatory discharge under the common law and the Tennessee Public Protection Act, Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1- 304 (2008 & Supp. 2013). Plaintiff alleged that his former employer fired him because he (1) refused to be involved when prospective customers test drove vehicles and (2) informed his supervisor that the dealership was breaking the law when it allowed test drives in cars that did not have dealer license plates or adequate proof of financial responsibility. The trial court granted the defendants summary judgment, holding that plaintiff did not establish a prima facie case because, in the court’s words, the plaintiff “did not engage in protected activity by refusing to take test drives without a license plate on the vehicle or proof of registration or insurance in the vehicle.” The trial court held that these infractions did not implicate “a matter of fundamental or significant public concern, such as would overcome Tennessee’s employment-at-will doctrine.” Alternatively, the court held that the person responsible for firing plaintiff was not aware, prior to the firing, that plaintiff had refused to participate in test drives. The court held that “[t]he allegedly protected activity was not the basis of the adverse employment action taken against Plaintiff.” We affirm the trial court’s grant of summary judgment and its dismissal of plaintiff’s action.