Court of Appeals (Western Section) Overturns Trial Court in Retaliatory Discharge Case VanCleave v. Reelfoot Bank


When can a bank discharge an employee in a “right to work” state like Tennessee? The Court of Appeals, sitting in Jackson, has overturned the Circuit Court for Weakley County in a case that may be of interest to our bank clients. The full opinion can be found at 34 TAM 52-6 (October 30, 2009).

The plaintiff in this case was employed by Reelfoot Bank. The plaintiff was asked by a customer to open an account in a manner that the plaintiff believed was illegal. The plaintiff refused to open the account and shortly thereafter was terminated by the bank. The plaintiff employee filed suit against the bank, asserting claims of common law and statutory retaliatory discharge. After discovery, the bank filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court in favor of the bank.

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