Mr. ?Rose? worked ?as ?a ?commercial ?truck ?driver from March 2006 through November 2009.?? He alleges his employer terminated him for refusing to complete his shift, which he claims would have forced him to exceed the maximum allowed hours- of-service? under? federal ?regulations ?and ?would have further required him to violate federal regulations by falsifying time sheets. ?His previous suit in federal court alleging a violation of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act (CMVSA) (49 U.S.C. ch. 311) was dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.
The employer filed a motion for summary judgment and argued that the CMVSA provides comprehensive remedies that serve to protect the specific public policy identified by Mr. Rose and even included punitive damages. Thus, an adequate alternative means of promoting the public policy existed, which, as a matter of law, foreclosed Mr. Rose’s public policy cause of action.?? The trial court agreed and granted the employer?s motion for summary judgment. ?The Court of Appeals affirmed. ?The Supreme Court granted review and remanded for reconsideration following Piel. ?On remand, the court of appeals reached the same result as it did the first time.
The only issue addressed on appeal concerned the ?jeopardy? element of the public policy tort. In that regard, the Court ruled that ?[p]rotecting the public is the policy that must be promoted, not? protecting? the ?employee’s? individual interests.? ?Relying on Cudney and Korslund, the Court concluded? that? ?the remedies? that? could have been available here under the CMVSA include reinstatement, compensatory damages, back pay with interest, litigation costs, witness fees, and attorney fees, . . . [and that these remedies]? ?more? ?than? ?adequately?? protect? ?the public interest in commercial motor vehicle safety.?
The Court gave a narrow interpretation to Piel v. City of Federal Way, 177 Wn.2d 604, 306 P.3d 879 (2013), and distinguished it on the grounds that Piel relied upon a prior case holding that PERC? ?remedies?? failed?? to?? fully ?address?? the broader public interests involved because it protected personal contractual rights solely. ?The Court found that Piel was limited to claims asserting PERC as the source of public policy. The court distinguished its recent decision in Becker by asserting there was no other means to promoting the public policy at issue.
Rose v. Anderson Hay and Grain Company, — Wn. App. —, 335 P.3d 440 (Div. III 9/25/2014) (Brown, Lawrence-Berry, Korsmo)