Robinson v. Salvation Army

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The plaintiff sued her former employer, alleging wrongful termination because she refused her supervisor’s request for unmarried sex in violation of a statute that proscribed fornication. The plaintiff alleged that her supervisor also made frequent lewd requests and comments when he was alone with her as well as suggestive gestures and inquiries concerning her romantic life. After plaintiff played secret recordings of these conversations to human resources she was terminated without explanation. The issue before the court was whether termination for refusing to engage in unmarried sex could be the basis of a public policy exception to the at-will employment doctrine. In rejecting the plaintiff’s claim, the court reasoned that a public policy argument cannot be based on an unconstitutional statute. Further, that a statute that sought to regulate private consensual sexual activity between adults was unconstitutional. Here, plaintiff could not base her claim on the statute that forbade unmarried sex because such a statute sought to regulate private consensual activity between adults and was therefore unconstitutional. This case is significant because the court reached this conclusion even though the conduct at issue was economically coercive and the same alleged facts could arguably have supported a wrongful discharge claim based on statutes concerning gender discrimination or “criminal acts” of “adultery and lewd and lascivious cohabitation,” statutes, which the court did not purport to overrule.



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