Plaintiff was employed as a Sound Technician for the City of Seattle at the Seattle Center - Key Arena. At the insistence of the Seattle Fire Department (SFD), an Emergency Fire Relay (EFR) system was installed to give exclusive control of the arena's public address system to the Seattle Fire Department in the event of a fire alarm. Plaintiff was told by his union representative and the installation contractor that he needed formal certification to work on the fire alarm system. Plaintiff was never certified to work on fire alarm systems.
Plaintiff and a co-worker expressed to their supervisor concern about an order to disable the EFR system due to issues of public safety and illegality. In response to his expressed concern, Plaintiff was told to follow orders, legal or illegal.
Plaintiff and a co-worker advised their superiors that they would not disable the EFR unless requested to do so from the Seattle Fire Department, shown that it was a legal procedure or with a written order. The City of Seattle made no effort to satisfy Plaintiff's concerns about the legality of its order. Plaintiff was later suspended for gross insubordination, and after filing a related complaint with the Department of Labor and Industries was terminated from employment.
II. ISSUES PRESENTED FOR REVIEW
1. Should the Court affirmatively adopt a standard to protect Washington employees from losing their jobs because they refused to engage in conduct which they reasonably believe would violate the law?
III. SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
The employee presented evidence that he refused to follow his employer's order based upon a reasonable belief that the order would violate the Seattle Fire Code and its underlying objectives of public safety. Plaintiff reasonably believed that following his employer's order would jeopardize thousands of innocent people's lives. The Court of Appeals erred in determining that the plaintiff's conduct was not directly related to the letter and policy of the fire code or that his conduct was unnecessary for the code's effective enforcement.
Unless the Court protects an employee's objective reasonable belief that the employer's conduct or order is illegal, employees will be fearful of retaliation even where the conduct or order is illegal. As a result, more illegal orders will be obeyed and more illegal conduct will be disregarded by employees with a social conscience. That result is contrary to the public policy tort and contrary to the public interest. This court should affirmatively adopt a standard to protect Washington employees from losing their jobs because they refused to engage in conduct or where they report conduct which they reasonably believe would violate the law, especially when public safety in involved.
IV. ARGUMENT OF COUNSEL
A. Washington Requires No Technical Violation of Law to Support a Claim for Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy.
This court has specifically declined to "limit the scope of what constitutes contravention of public policy to clear statutory violations." Dicomes v. State, 113 Wn.2d 612, 620, 782 P.2d 102 (1989). A showing that "the employer violated either the letter or the purpose of the law is sufficient, so long as the employee sought to further the public good, and not merely private or proprietary interests." Id. (emphasis added); Thompson v. St. Regis Paper Co., 102 Wn.2d 219, 232, 685 P.2d 1081 (1984) ("In determining whether a clear mandate of public policy is violated, courts should inquire whether the employer's conduct contravenes the letter or purpose of a constitutional, statutory, or regulatory provision or scheme"). See also Bott v. Rockwell Int'l, 80 Wn.App. 326, 908 P.2d 909 (Div. III 1996)(holding that the trial court "correctly instructed the jury that [plaintiff] had to prove [defendant] violated either the letter or policy of the law"). A technical violation of statutory law has never been required to support a claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy in Washington.
In Gardner v. Loomis Armored, Inc., 128 Wn.2d 931, 913 P.2d 377 (1996), this court held that the plaintiff must establish, inter alia, that discouraging the conduct in which the plaintiff engaged would "jeopardize public policy." Id. at 941. Read together with Dicomes and Thompson, this element requires only that the plaintiff show jeopardy to the "letter or purpose" of the underlying public policy, as opposed to an actual violation of law as the Ellis court required. In Gardner, the Court only required that the violation of public policy be threatened, as opposed to actual:"whether, on the facts of each particular case, the employee's discharge contravenes or jeopardizes that public policy. The jeopardy element guarantees an employer's personnel management decisions will not be challenged unless a public policy is genuinely threatened." Id. at 941-42 (emphasis added). To establish this element, the plaintiff must show that he or she engaged in particular conduct, and the conduct directly relates to the public policy, or was necessary for the effective enforcement of the public policy. "This burden requires a plaintiff to argue that other means for promoting the policy . . . are inadequate. Additionally, the plaintiff must show how the threat of dismissal will discourage others from engaging in the desirable conduct." Id. at 945 (internal citations omitted).
In Gardner, 128 Wn.2d at 946, the court held that the employee had a claim for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, even though the employer violated no underlying law or policy. The conduct at issue was the employer's conduct in discharging the employee and the alleged reasons therefore. The Good Samaritan public policy and the policy of saving lives would be jeopardized if the employer was allowed to fire an employee for trying to save a life, even if he or she disregarded a company rule in the process. Indeed, the court required only that the employee "reasonably believe" his actions were necessary to enforce the policy. Id. at 946. This is a question of fact for the jury. "A jury could easily find Gardner believed his conduct was necessary to rescue Ms. Martin from an imminent life threatening situation." Id.
In Dicomes, 113 Wn.2d at 624, this court affirmed summary judgment for the employer holding that, "[i]n the area of discretionary political decision making, plaintiff's arguably good faith belief in the righteousness of her conduct is too tenuous a ground upon which to base a claim for wrongful discharge." In Dicomes, however, the "plaintiff was not confronted with the choice of violating the law or sacrificing her job." Id. That was exactly the choice faced by Mr. Ellis. In addition, amici is not suggesting the subjective "good faith" standard rejected in Dicomes, but an objective "reasonable belief" standard. In Washington, the relevant inquiry has never been limited to whether any particular law or regulation has been violated, but instead whether some "important public policy interest embodied in the law has been furthered by the whistle blowing activity." Id. at 621.
In Farnham v. CRISTA Ministries, 116 Wn.2d 659, 670-72, 807 P.2d 830 (1991), the court affirmed the employer's judgment notwithstanding the verdict because the employer's full compliance with the underlying public policies was undisputed by the parties. The plaintiff, an employee who objected to the removal of life saving devices on religious grounds, put in writing on two separate occasions that she knew that the defendant's actions complied with the law. Id. at 670. The plaintiff therefore could not have reasonably believed that the employer was violating any law.(1)
Adopting an objective "reasonable belief" standard in this case is fully supported by Washington State jurisprudence on claims for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy. Requiring, as the Ellis court did, that employees prove an actual technical violation of the underlying law would deviate from current law, and would drastically curb the rights of Washington employees in the already narrow public policy exception to the employment-at-will doctrine.
B. The "Reasonable Belief" Standard Has Long Been the Law for Establishing Claims for Retaliation in Employment.
The "reasonable belief" standard is well grounded under federal law in the Ninth Circuit. Under the retaliation provision of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 2000-e(3), employees are protected when they "report actions that they reasonably believe are discriminatory, even if those actions are in fact lawful." Passantino v. Johnson & Johnson, 207 F.3d 599, 611 (9th Cir. 2000). See also Learned v. City of Bellevue, 860 F.2d 928, 932 (9th Cir. 1988) (an employee "need not establish that the opposed conduct in fact violated the Act in order to establish a valid claim of retaliation"); Moyo v. Gomez, 40 F.3d 982, 985 (9th Cir. 1994)("Moyo would be able to state a retaliation claim if he could show that his belief that an unlawful employment practice occurred was reasonable'"), cert. den., 513 U.S. 1081 (1995); Trent v. Valley Elec. Ass'n, 41 F.3d 524, 525 (9th Cir. 1994)(holding that to establish a claim for retaliation, employee need not prove that employment practice at issue was in fact unlawful); Jurado v. Eleven-Fifty Corp., 813 F.2d 1406, 1411 (9th Cir. 1987) ("the employee need only reasonably believe that the employer has engaged in an unlawful employment practice"); EEOC v. Crown Zellerbach Corp., 720 F.2d 1008, 1013 (9th Cir. 1983) ("It is not necessary . . . that the practice be demonstrably unlawful; opposition clause protection will be accorded whenever the opposition is based on a reasonable belief' that the employer has engaged in an unlawful employment practice."); Sias v. City Demonstration Agency, 588 F.2d 692, 695-96 (9th Cir. 1978) (same); McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 796 (1973) (the retaliation provision of the Civil Rights Act "forbids discrimination against . . . employees for attempting to protest or correct allegedly discriminatory conditions of employment" (emphasis added)). (2)
In Moyo, 40 F.3d at 984, a black corrections officer alleged that he was fired from the California Department of Corrections in retaliation for his "refus[al] to cooperate with defendants' practice of allowing showers after work shifts to white inmates but not to black inmates working the same job shift." Defendants argued that plaintiff's retaliation claim must fail because the prisoners did not fit the definition of "employee" under the Civil Rights Act and were thus not covered by the Act. Id. at 984. The court held that it was not necessary that the employment practice actually be unlawful.
[O]pposition clause protection will be accorded whenever the opposition is based on a reasonable belief 'that the employer has engaged in an unlawful practice.' Opposition can, of course, consist of a refusal to carry out an order or policy. An erroneous belief that an employer engaged in an unlawful employment practice is reasonable, and thus actionable under [the retaliation provision of Title VII] if premised on a mistake made in good faith. A good-faith mistake may be one of fact or of law. Id. (internal citations omitted). The court wrote that the reasonableness of the plaintiff's belief must be assessed "according to an objective standard one that makes due allowance . . . for the limited knowledge possessed by most Title VII plaintiffs about the factual and legal bases of their claims." Id. at 985. (3)
Washington has incorporated this standard in retaliation claims under Washington's Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), RCW 49.60.210. Graves v. Dep't of Game, 76 Wn.App. 705, 712, 887 P.2d 424 (1994) ("[A]n employee who opposes employment practices reasonably believed to be discriminatory is protected by the opposition clause whether or not the practice is actually discriminatory"). See also Cf Havens v. C & D Plastics, Inc., 124 Wn.2d 158, 166, 876 P.2d 435 (1994)(defining just cause for termination as reasons which "are reasonably believed by the employer to be true"); RCW 42.40.020(8) (defining "whistleblower" as "an employee who in good faith reports alleged improper governmental action to the auditor"); RCW 42.41.040(1)("It is unlawful for any local government official or employee to take retaliatory action against a local government employee because the employee provided information in good faith in accordance with the provisions of this chapter that an improper governmental action occurred").
A similar--but even broader--standard is used to determine whether an employee was retaliated against for exercising his or her First Amendment rights. In Johnson v. Multnomah County, Or., 48 F.3d 420, 426 (9th Cir. 1995), the court ruled that even employees who make statements with reckless disregard for the truth are entitled to protection. In Johnson, 48 F.3d at 421-22, the employee made statements to co-workers and others accusing her supervisor of mismanagement and possible criminal conduct. The employee was fired after her supervisor learned she was making these statements. Id. at 422. The employer argued that "recklessly false statements" should not be protected and public employers should be free to terminate employees without having to show that the statements caused their interests any injury. Id. at 422. The court rejected this position:
There is a significant First Amendment interest in encouraging public employees, who have special access to facts relevant to debates on issues of public concern, to speak freely and make that information available. There is a real danger that stripping all First Amendment protection from recklessly false statements may inhibit the flow of accurate information from public employees who are uncertain about whether they have accumulated a legally sufficient factual basis for their statements. A more cautious approach is in order, an approach that considers the actual damage done to the government by the reckless statement, whether anyone believed the statements, whether the government could easily rebut the false statements, etc. This is precisely the analysis undertaken in the Pickering balancing. In Pickering, the Supreme Court explicitly declined to create a general duty of care with which public employees must speak in order to qualify for any First Amendment protection. Id. at 424 (internal citations omitted)(emphasis added). "The First Amendment interest in protecting merely inaccurate statements made in good faith, however, is a good deal stronger." Id. at 426. See also Chappel v. Montgomery County Fire Protection District No. 1, 131 F.3d 564, 576 (6th Cir. 1997) ("A public employee is not required to prove the truth of his speech in order to secure the protections of the First Amendment").
The First Amendment protects employees not only from retaliation based on speech, but conduct, see Nunez v. Davis, 169 F.3d 1222, 1226 (9th Cir. 1999) (expressive conduct intended to convey a message is protected by the First Amendment), and include situations where, as a part of the employee's protestation of the employer's practices, he or she engages in an act of insubordination. Id. at 1226-27 (employer liable for terminating employee who deliberately arranged for two court clerks to attend training, against clear direction from her supervisor, a judge, who instructed her to limit training to employees who worked on the judge's reelection campaign); Lambert v. Richard, 59 F.3d 134, 135-36 (9th Cir. 1995) (employer liable for retaliation by reprimanding employee for "insubordinate action taken by [her] at an evening session of the City Council [by testifying as union representative in which she criticized management] and for not utilizing established procedures for a grievance"); Johnston v. Koppes, 850 F.2d 594, 595 (9th Cir. 1988) (employer liable for retaliating against employee who attended hearing after her supervisor told her not to); Allen v. Scribner, 812 F.2d 426, 428-33 (9th Cir. 1987) (Department of Food and Agriculture liable for reassigning employee after he aired his opinion to the press that it "did not have a handle" on the medfly infestation problem, despite specific instructions that he not publically voice his opinion on this issue).
C. Sister Jurisdictions Allow Claims for Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy Where Employees Refuse to Perform Employment Practice They Reasonably Believe is Illegal.
In Martin Marietta Corp. v. Lorenz, 823 P.2d 100 (Colo. Sup. Ct. 1992) (en banc), the Colorado Supreme Court adopted a standard similar to the one urged by amici in this case. There, the employee alleged that he was fired because he refused to engage in acts of deception and misrepresentation concerning the quality of materials used by his company in designing equipment for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Id. at 102. In affirming the reversal of the directed verdict for the employer, the court held that the employee is required to:
present evidence showing that the employer was aware, or reasonably should have been aware, that the employee's refusal to comply with the employer's directive was based on the employee's reasonable belief that the action ordered by the employer was illegal, contrary to clearly expressed statutory policy relating to the employee's duty as a citizen, or violative of the employee's legal right or privilege as a worker.Id. at 109. The court, explaining the protection this standard would provide for employers from frivolous lawsuits, wrote that it:
should result in providing the employer with a fair opportunity to distinguish between the conscientious employee concerned about the legality of particular conduct demanded by the employer and the employee who refuses to carry out an order or directive not as a result of any concern for the legality of the employer's demand but out of insubordination or some improper motive. Furthermore, [this standard] should result in providing the employer with fair notice, prior to the discharge decision, of circumstances supportive of the employee's reasonable belief that the action directed by the employer would be manifestly illegal . . . .Id. at 110.
Similarly, in Allum v. Valley Bank of Nevada, 970 P.2d 1062, 1065 (Sup. Ct. Nev. 1998), the employee alleged he was terminated for "refusing to participate in suspected illegal conduct." He was a loan officer for a mortgage company who reported alleged violations of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) rules and regulations to management and to the FHA. He also refused to become involved in authorizing loans that he believed violated these rules and regulations. Id. at 1063. The Supreme Court of Nevada held that the trial court abused its discretion in issuing jury instructions requiring that the employee prove that the employer "actually participated in illegal conduct." Id. at 1067.
Rather, the employee must show "that he reasonably suspected, in good faith, that [the employer] participated in illegal conduct." Id. (4)
In McQuary v. Bel Air Convalescent Home, Inc., 684 P.2d 21, 23-24 (Or.App.) rev. den. 688 P.2d 845 (1984), in adopting a "reasonable good faith belief" standard, the court articulated the "competing social values:"
Either plaintiff must act at her peril in making a complaint, risking her job if the complaint later turns out to be unfounded, or the employer must act at its peril in firing her, risking damages if she turns out to have acted in good faith. On balance, we believe that the social harm from reporting in good faith a complaint that may turn out, after investigation, to be unfounded is potentially far less than the harm of not reporting a well-founded complaint for fear of the consequences. The social benefit from investigating all potentially significant violations of a patient's statutory rights is far greater than the social benefit, if any, from allowing an employer to terminate an employee who in good faith reports to the appropriate authorities situations which prove not to be violations.The reasonable belief standard is not limited to reporting unlawful conduct. Indeed, refusing an order is a more "onerous choice" for the employee, and equally deserving of protection. Wagner v. City of Globe, 722 P.2d 250, 256 (Sup. Ct. Ariz. 1986). Refusing to engage in an illegal act "is the paradigmatic case of a public policy violation" and forces the employee to choose "between his job and actual participation in illegal behavior." Id. It is a more "onerous choice" than that faced by the "whistleblower" who "either ignor[es] the known or suspected illegality or becom[es] an instrument in law enforcement." Id. While the reasonable belief standard should also apply to whistleblowers, it is especially important that employees who refuse to participate in conduct that they reasonably believe is illegal have some legal protection, even if it turns out they were mistaken.(5)
D. Public Policies of the State of Washington Support Adopting the "Reasonable Belief" Standard in Matters Affecting Public Safety.
The "reasonable belief" standard is especially appropriate in situations like this one, where the underlying public policy deals with matters of public safety. The purpose of the fire code and requirements that only people with specific training operate fire equipment is to protect the public safety. Mr. Ellis reasonably believed that he was not qualified to do what his employer asked him to do, and that the safety of thousands of people was in jeopardy. Even if Mr. Ellis had contacted an attorney and confirmed his understanding of the law, his conduct would be unprotected given the ruling of the Court of Appeals.
If this Court affirms the decision of the Court of Appeals, employees will be discouraged from taking steps like Mr. Ellis to protect the public safety because of the risk of termination. The ruling of the Court of Appeals will encourage, rather than discourage, employees to follow the instructions of their employers, even if they objectively and reasonably believe that the conduct is illegal. The Court of Appeal's ruling is contrary to Washington's clear public policies of encouraging employees to oppose unsafe employment practices. (6)
E. Defining the "Reasonable Belief Standard" For Claims of Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy Where an Employee Refuses to Perform an Act He or She Believes is Unlawful.
This court should reverse the ruling by the Court of Appeals, and remand this case for trial. In doing so, the court should adopt an objective "reasonable belief" standard to apply where an employee is terminated for reasonably refusing to comply with an order by his or her employer, and it is subsequently determined that the employer's underlying action did not technically violate the law.
In making the determination whether the employee's belief was objectively reasonable, the court should consider such factors as: (1) whether the employee contacted an attorney, enforcement agency, or union, to determine whether the conduct is illegal; (2) the level of the employee's own expertise in the subject matter; (3) whether the employer knew or should have known that the employee believed the employment practice at issue was illegal; and (4) efforts made by the employer, if any, to demonstrate to the employee the legality of the conduct at issue. "[A]n objective standard is one that makes due allowance . . . for the limited knowledge possessed by most Title VII plaintiffs about the factual and legal bases of their claims." Moyo 40 F.3d at 985.
Whether the employee had a "reasonable belief" is a factual inquiry. Summary judgment is not appropriate unless as a matter of law the employee was aware that the conduct at issue was not illegal at the time he or she refused to perform it. This will prevent employees from recovering in cases such as Farnham v. CRISTA Ministries, 116 Wn.2d 659, 807 P.2d 830 (1991), where they could not have reasonably believed that the employment practice was illegal.
At the time Mr. Ellis told his supervisor that he would not bypass the emergency fire microphone relay, he had received information from his union that it would be illegal for him to do so. Furthermore, Mr. Ellis had been instructed by the contractor who installed the system not to disable the emergency fire microphone relay. Mr. Ellis initiated contact with his supervisor to discuss his concerns before he was ever actually ordered to perform this duty. His supervisor told him that he was to do what he was told whether legal or illegal. The City of Seattle provided no information or assurance to Mr. Ellis that bypassing the emergency fire microphone relay was legal, although such information was requested. A reasonable jury could find that, at the time Mr. Ellis told his employer that he would not bypass the emergency fire microphone relay, he reasonably believed that doing so would violate the law.
Employees such as Mr. Ellis deserve the protection of the law. More importantly, without such protection employees will be far less likely to report illegal conduct and far more likely to obey illegal orders.
1. The only other cases in which Washington courts have addressed the "reasonable belief" theory with respect to claims for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, involve appellate review of jury instructions. Bott, 80 Wn.App. at 331 (upholding the trial court's rejection of plaintiff's proposed jury instruction, which stated that a good faith belief is enough to support a cause of action for a wrongful termination in violation of public policy); Wlasiuk v. Whirlpool Corp., 81 Wn.App. 163, 180, 914 P.2d 102 (1996) (upholding the trial court's rejection of plaintiff's jury instruction that he need only prove that employer "reasonably appeared to violate the fair trade practices laws or that he reasonably believed [the employer] violated the fair trade practices law"). Jury instructions, however, are reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard, and the trial court's refusal to give a requested instruction warrants a reversal only if a party cannot argue its theory of the case or if the instructions, when read as a whole, do not inform the jury of the applicable law. Petersen v. State, 100 Wn.2d 421, 441, 671 P.2d 230 (1983). In both Bott and Wlaisuk, the court instructed the jury that the plaintiff had to prove that the company violated "either the letter or policy of the law." Bott, 80 Wn.App. at 335; Wlaisuk, 81 Wn.App. at 180.
2. There exists two different prongs of a retaliation cause of action; "opposition" and "participation." The reasonable belief standard is limited to retaliation in "opposition" to unlawful practices. This Court has yet to address the different standards to be applied to "opposition" and "participation" protected activity. "Participation" conduct enjoys far greater protection than "opposition" conduct. See Hashimoto v. Dalton, 118 F.3d 671, 680 (9th Cir. 1997)("The considerations controlling the interpretation of the opposition clause are not entirely the same as those applying to the participation clause. The purpose of the latter is to protect the employee who utilizes the tools provided by Congress to protect his rights"); Sias v. City Demonstration Agency, 588 F.2d 692, 695 (9th Cir. 1978)("It is well settled that the participation clause shields an employee from retaliation regardless of the merit of his EEOC charge"). In Golver v. South Carolina Law enforcement Division, 170 F.3d 411 (4th Cir. 1999), plaintiff was terminated in retaliation for the substance of deposition testimony. The Court rejected the "opposition" line of cases and adopted the "participation" line of cases. Id. at 414. To support absolute protection, the Court reasoned "[w]ith her immunity limited by a reasonableness requirement, a witness might be forced to evade or to refuse to answer deposition questions." Id. at 415.
3. A "reasonable belief" standard also exists under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act to protect truck drivers from termination where they refuse to drive a truck if they reasonably believe it would be unsafe, even if their belief, although reasonable, was inaccurate. See, e.g. Yellow Freight Systems, Inc. v. Reich, 38 F.3d 76 (2nd Cir. 1994) (holding that truck driver was wrongfully terminated for refusing to drive truck, where his belief that the truck was unsafe to drive was objectively reasonable, even though post-incident inspection did not reveal unsafe condition); Western Truck Manpower v. Dep't of Labor, 12 F.3d 151 (9th Cir. 1993) (truck driver was wrongfully terminated for refusing to complete delivery of load he believed unsafe).
4. See also Sheets v. Teddy's Frosted Foods, Inc., 427 A.2d 385 (Sup. Ct. Conn. 1980) (holding that claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy where employee insisted that employer comply with Food and Drug Cosmetic Act need not prove an actual violation of the statute, stating that "an employee should not be put to an election whether to risk criminal sanction or to jeopardize his continued employment."); Johnson v. World Color Press, Inc., 498 N.E.2d 575, 578 (Ill.App. 1986) (employee discharged for disclosing what he believed to be violations of federal securities law could maintain action for retaliatory discharge and "need not allege or prove conclusively the law has been violated in order to state a cause of action."); Wagner v. City of Globe, 722 P.2d 250, 257 (Sup. Ct. Ariz. 1986) ("The relevant inquiry is not limited to whether any particular law or regulation has been violated . . . but instead emphasizes whether some important public policy interest embodied in the law has been furthered by the whistleblowing activity."); McQuary v. Bel Air Convalescent Home, Inc., 684 P.2d 21 (Or.App. 1984) ("an employee is protected from discharge for good faith reporting of what the employee believes to be patient mistreatment to an appropriate authority.").
5. Indeed, an employee who is discharged for obeying orders from his or her employer that turn out to be illegal have no recourse at all. In Hoffmann v. Simmons Airlines, Inc., 6 IER Cases BNA 37 (Iowa Ct. App. 1990), the court held that an airlines security guard had no claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy where his employer fired him after it was fined by the Federal Aviation Administration for failing to detect a simulated bomb, even though the employer had instructed him to pretend that a broken metal detector actually worked in order to get flights out on schedule. The court reasoned that because the plaintiff followed the employer's instructions, his discharge furthered, rather than contravened, public policy: "If anything, Hoffman's discharge served to emphasize that security guards have a personal duty to insure the public's safety."
6. Numerous public policies in Washington support the protection of employees who take steps to protect the public safety, which is undisputably the purpose of and policy embodied in the Fire Code at issue in this case. See, e.g. RCW 42.40.020(5)(a)(iii) (protecting employees who report not only violations of federal and state law or rule, but anything "[w]hich is of substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety"); RCW 49.70.110 (prohibiting discharge of employees for requesting information about workplace safety under the Worker and Community Right to Know Act); RCW 51.28.010 (requiring employees to report to employer on the job accidents); RCW 51.48.025 (protecting employees from retaliation by employer for filing a workers compensation claim if injured on the job); Gardner v. Loomis Armored, Inc., 128 Wn.2d 931, 941, 913 P.2d 377 (1996) (wrongful discharge in violation of Good Samaritan public policies); Lins v. Children's Discovery Centers of America, Inc., 95 Wn.App. 486, 976 P.2d 168 (1999)(wrongful discharge in violation of public policy recognized where employee refused to terminate her subordinates because they had filed workers compensation claims); Wilmot v. Kaiser Aluminum, 118 Wn.2d 46, 821 P.2d 18 (1991) (wrongful discharge in violation of public policy recognized where employee terminated for filing workers compensation claim).