Discharge claim by medical sales rep is upheld; employer violated public policy
Lynn Morrison sued B. Braun Medical Incorporated, her employer, claiming she was discharged in violation of public policy. Morrison charged that Braun terminated her because she refused to unlawfully promote non-approved ("off-label") uses for medical products and would not violate anti-kickback law. The jury found her evidence persuasive and awarded her a verdict, which Braun sought to overturn on appeal. The Court of Appeals rejected the Defendant's appellate arguments.Morrison was an "at-will" employee of the Defendant for nine years. She argued she was specifically retaliated against for speaking up at company conferences against promotion tactics that violated federal law. She documented situations where the company's lead sales representatives gloated over tactics to side-step anti-kickback law by directing gifts to third-parties. She also documented situations where she was admonished for speaking up against off-label promotion tactics. After these events she refused to sign a form that would have documented her agreement that she was "unaware of any non-compliant behavior" within the company. She was soon terminated and sued.
The Court of Appeals confirmed that a reasonable person could well agree that the evidence she presented met the burden of proving that the company's explanation of her termination was merely a pretext for illegal behavior.