E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. v. Pressman

679 A.2d 436 (1996)

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E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. v. Pressman

Delaware Supreme Court
679 A.2d 436 (1996)

Facts

Norman J. Pressman (plaintiff) worked for E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Company (Dupont) (defendant) as a highly skilled scientist. After Pressman approached his supervisor, David Pensak, regarding evidence that Pensak might have been subject to a conflict of interest, Pensak made it his mission to have Pressman terminated. Pensak made it appear to his superiors that Pressman failed to complete tasks that were actually not assigned to him, underreported Pressman’s achievements, and failed to submit a report showing Pressman’s substantial achievements. Based on Pensak’s misrepresentation and falsified information presented to Pressman’s superiors, Pensak caused DuPont to fire Pressman. DuPont learned about Pensak’s mission to discredit Pressman later and ratified Pensak’s conduct. Pressman sued DuPont on the basis that DuPont had violated the covenant or implied duty of good faith and fair dealing by firing him. A jury ruled in Pressman’s favor. DuPont appealed. On appeal, the Delaware Supreme Court considered the scope of the at-will employment doctrine as limited by the covenant or implied duty of good faith and fair dealing. The Delaware Supreme Court reviewed the lower court’s instructions to the jury, which explained that if Pensak or Dupont terminated Pressman with malice or intent to harm or in bad faith, then the jury was to rule in Pressman’s favor.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Veasey, C.J.)

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