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Geary v. United States Steel Corp.

456 Pa. 171, 319 A.2d 174 (1974)

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Geary v. United States Steel Corp.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

456 Pa. 171, 319 A.2d 174 (1974)

Facts

George Geary (plaintiff) was an at-will employee of United States Steel Corporation (US Steel) (defendant). Geary’s duties at US Steel involved selling tubular products to companies in the oil-and-gas industry. Geary became concerned that one of US Steel’s new products was dangerous and had not been adequately tested. Geary was not a safety expert, and his position as a salesperson did not involve making safety judgments about US Steel’s products. When Geary expressed his concerns about the product to his supervisors, the supervisors told Geary to “follow directions.” Geary told his supervisors that he would comply with their wishes, but Geary then went over his supervisors’ heads and expressed his concerns to a company vice president in charge of selling the product. Geary alleged that his actions caused US Steel to withdraw the product from the market for reevaluation, but US Steel disputed that allegation. US Steel subsequently fired Geary without notice, and Geary sued US Steel for wrongful termination. Geary alleged that he was acting in both the public’s and US Steel’s best interests in raising concerns about a product he believed to be defective and that US Steel acted abusively and maliciously in terminating him for expressing those concerns. US Steel filed a demurrer seeking the dismissal of Geary’s complaint for failure to state a claim. The trial court sustained the demurrer and dismissed the action, and Geary appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pomeroy, J.)

Dissent (Roberts, J.)

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