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Tameny v. Atlantic Richfield Co.

27 Cal. 3d 167, 164 Cal. Rptr. 839, 610 P.2d 1330 (1980)

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Tameny v. Atlantic Richfield Co.

California Supreme Court

27 Cal. 3d 167, 164 Cal. Rptr. 839, 610 P.2d 1330 (1980)

Facts

In 1960, Gordon Tameny (plaintiff) began working as a relief clerk for Atlantic Richfield Company (Arco) (defendant) in California. Tameny’s employment agreement with Arco did not have a definite duration, which made Tameny an at-will employee under California law. Tameny was promoted in 1966 to a retail-sales-representative position, in which he was responsible for managing relationships between Arco and service-station dealers in Bakersfield, California. Beginning in the early 1970s, Arco’s district manager and other Arco employees allegedly began engaging in illegal antitrust activity to fix the retail price of gasoline. Arco employees allegedly pressured Tameny to threaten his Bakersfield service-station dealers to cut their prices to a level designated by Arco. When Tameny refused, Arco fired Tameny. Tameny sued Arco in California state court, seeking compensatory and punitive damages based on Arco’s alleged wrongful discharge of Tameny for refusing to commit a criminal act. Arco demurred, and the trial court dismissed the complaint and entered judgment in Arco’s favor. Tameny appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Tobriner, J.)

Dissent (Clark, J.)

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