Saturday, June 11, 2005

Don't Worry About Getting Fired If You Pack Heat to Work in West Virginia

I ran across a post on the The Volokh Conspiracy via about an interesting1991 West Virginia case called Feliciano v. 7-Eleven addressing the right of an employee to use self-defense without fear of being discharged. If you are discharged by your employer for packing heat and using it in response to lethal imminent danger you may have a claim for wrongful discharge.

The two new headnotes from the case written by Justice Davis are as follows:

  • When an at will employee has been discharged from his/her employment based upon his/her exercise of self-defense in response to lethal imminent danger, such right of self-defense constitutes a substantial public policy exception to the at will employment doctrine and will sustain a cause of action for wrongful discharge.
  • An employer may rebut an employee's prima facie case of wrongful discharge resulting from the employee's use of self-defense in response to lethal imminent danger by demonstrating that it had a plausible and legitimate business reason to justify the discharge.
I wasn't aware of this case and plan to forward a summary of the case to a couple of clients who operate gas stations and convenient stores. Running across stuff like this on blogs makes me realize what an impact blogs and blawgs are having on society and the ability of people to share information.

UPDATE: When I reviewed the case I didn't realize that fellow blawger in West Virginia, Brian Peterson, appeared as counsel in thecase. He has posted some interesting followup "insider" comments on the case here. I'm also interested as to the reason there was a reignition of interest in this case by David Kopel. After scanning his webpage I suspect it came about due to research he must be doing on a particular project or paper.

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