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Dow Chemical wins battle with employee whom it fired after learning of affair

Matthew Foote sued his employer and a supervisor, arguing a wrongful and retaliatory discharge.  Foote believed he was fired for objecting to a policy of accepting Pistons' tickets from a supplier; Dow maintained he was fired for acknowledging a sexual relationship with a subordinate.  The trial court dismissed his case and Foote appealed.

Foote noted that the Dow handbook did not prohibit a relationship between co-employees, but that it did confirm an anti-retaliation policy.   He argued that the anti-retaliation policy in the employee handbook constituted a contractual agreement that he should be allowed to enforce.  The Court disagreed and held that under the employee handbook, Foote remained an at-will employee with no rights that he was entitled to enforce. 

The Court also upheld the dismissal of Foote's claim against the supervisor who fired him, noting that a co-employee cannot be sued for "interference with a contractual relationship," unless the co-employee is acting outside of his employment capacity and solely in his or her own interest.  Even if Foote was correct that the supervisor fired him in retaliation for raising the conflict-of-interest issue, he possessed no right to make a claim against the supervisor.

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