JUDITH MOORE-PENNOYER v. STATE OF TENNESSEE ET AL. - Articles

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Posted by: Landry Butler on Mar 28, 2017

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Herbert Slatery, III, Attorney General & Reporter; Andre´e S. Blumstein, Solicitor General; and Stephanie Bergmeyer, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellant, William T. Ailor.

Attorneys 2:

David H. Dunaway and Rick A. Owens, LaFollette, Tennessee, for the appellee, Judith Moore-Pennoyer.

Judge(s): CLARK

We granted permission to appeal to clarify the nature of the employment relationship of a trial judge's secretarial assistant. We hold that a trial judge's secretarial assistant is an at-will employee. As a result, the secretarial assistant's employment may be terminated at any time during the term of the trial judge to whom he or she is assigned, either by the judge or the secretarial assistant. If the relationship is not terminated during the trial judge's term, the secretarial assistant's employment automatically terminates when the trial judge's service ends. Because the plaintiff secretarial assistant's employment automatically ended when the trial judge's term ended and because she remained employed until the end of the trial judge's term, as a matter of law, the defendant did not tortiously interfere with the plaintiff's employment relationship. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals, vacate the judgment of the trial court, and remand for entry of a judgment granting the defendant's motion to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint, and for any further proceedings, consistent with this decision, that may be necessary in the trial court.