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Wright v. Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children

Supreme Court of Massachusetts
589 N.E.2d 1241 (1992)


Facts

Anita Wright (plaintiff) worked for Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children (Shriners) (defendant) an at-will employee who had received excellent evaluations throughout her employment. A former nurse employee sent a written complaint to the Shriners national headquarters about problems between the medical staff and administration. As a result, a survey team was dispatched to Shriners to look into the matter. Shriners’ hospital administrator was noticeably upset about the letter and speculated that Wright may have motivated the nurse to write the letter. The survey team interviewed employees, including Wright, who told them there were often communication problems between the medical and nursing staffs and gave specific examples. Wright’s comments were relayed to the assistant chief of staff and the survey team prepared reports of their findings. Thereafter, the hospital administrator terminated Wright. Wright sued Shriners for wrongful termination of her at-will employment in violation of public policy. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Wright and awarded her $100,000. Shriners appealed to the state’s supreme court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (O’Connor, J.)

Dissent (Liacos, C.J.)

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