not private, and employees cannot reasonably expect the level of
privacy that they enjoy at home. Employer surveillance has become
a common facet of many employment situations, and it makes little
sense to say that management can record an incident of harassment
on videotape but not require that its employees report that same
Moreover, Title VII sets forth a countervailing policy interest
in eliminating unlawful discrimination, including sexual
harassment, from the workplace. Courts should be reluctant to
find state public policy interests that "jostle
uncomfortably"*fn9 with those of federal antidiscrimination law,
lest in the process they subvert the latter and subject employers
to vague, undefined standards under which they can be held liable
no matter which course they take.
Finally, plaintiffs assert that discharging them for failure to
report these incidents of alleged sexual harassment violated the
independent duty of good faith and fair dealing implied in their
at-will employment. Plaintiffs base this argument on their
allegation that defendant ignored their reports of previous
incidents more severe than the ones over which they were
ultimately terminated. Thus, they contend, it was bad faith to
fire them for heeding what amounted to defendant's implicit
advice not to report such incidents.
The simple answer to this is that Pennsylvania recognizes no
action for wrongful discharge based upon breach of the duty of
good faith and fair dealing in an at-will employment contract.
See Bruffett v. Warner Comm., Inc., 692 F.2d 910, 913 (3d Cir.
1982); Fucci v. Graduate Hosp., 969 F. Supp. 310, 320 (E.D.Pa.
1997); Green v. Bryant, 887 F. Supp. 798, 803 (E.D.Pa. 1995); Cox
v. Vogel, No. Civ.A. 97-3906, 1998 WL 438492, *8 (E.D.Pa. July
29, 1998); Buckwalter v. ICI Explosives USA, Inc., No.
96-CV-4795, 1998 WL 54355, *16 (E.D.Pa. Jan. 8, 1998). Although the
duty of good faith and fair dealing exists in an at-will
employment contract, "there is no bad faith when an employer
discharges an at-will employee for good reason, bad reason, or no
reason at all, as long as no statute or public policy is
implicated." Fucci, 969 F. Supp. at 320 (quoting Green, 887 F.
Supp. at 803).
Thus, plaintiff's reliance on Somers v. Somers, 418 Pa. Super. 131,
613 A.2d 1211 (1992), is misplaced. That case involved a
sale of stock from an uncle to a nephew, in exchange for
employment as a consultant on a particular project and a share of
that project's profits; the parties came to an impasse in their
relationship, and nephew terminated uncle. As it came to the
superior court on appeal, uncle did not even allege that his
termination breached the duty of good faith and fair dealing, but
alleged a breach based on nephew's actions outside the employment
relationship. Id. at 1214; see Fucci, 969 F. Supp. at 320 ("The
claims in [Somers] did not arise from the termination of an
at-will employee.").*fn10 Somers, then, does not stand for the
proposition that the implied covenant of good faith and fair
dealing acts as an independent check on am employer's power to
terminate an at-will employee. Hence, I reject plaintiff's "good
Because plaintiffs have alleged and cannot allege any
circumstances sufficient to implicate a recognized public policy
exception to the at-will rule, I must dismiss their complaint
I recognize that, to plaintiffs and those who may someday find
themselves in a similar predicament, this result may appear
harsh. Accepting plaintiff's Averments as true, McDaniel and
Cavallucci were, subjectively at least, "trying to do the right
thing," for which they both were fired. This case, unfortunately,
dramatizes the fact that, sometimes, it may not be possible to be
both a "good person" — that is, by honoring a request to
keep a confidence — and a "good employee" at the same time.
But workplace friendships and even acquaintanceships often
conflict with an employer's policies, and, in the final analysis,
it is the employer which ends up liable if an employee is treated
unlawfully. Because of that, the employer must have the latitude
to set its own workplace rules, consistent with applicable law.
If that law is to be adjusted, it is for the legislature and the
state courts to set the lead. "While a federal court must be
sensitive to the doctrinal trends of the jurisdiction whose law
it applies, it is beyond the authority of a federal court in such
circumstances to create entirely new causes of action." Wolk v.
Saks Fifth Ave., Inc., 728 F.2d 221, 223 (3d Cir. 1984). That is
essentially the relief plaintiffs seek here, and it is beyond
this court's power. An appropriate order follows.
AND NOW, this ___ day of July 1999, upon consideration of
defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint under Fed.
R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), dkt. no. 2, and the parties' arguments
relative thereto, it is hereby ORDERED AND DIRECTED that:
1. the aforesaid motion is GRANTED;
2. plaintiffs' complaint is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE;
3. the Clerk of Court shall mark this case CLOSED.