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Morrison v. Nana Worleyparsons, LLC

Supreme Court of Alaska

December 13, 2013

Jim MORRISON, Appellant,
v.
NANA WORLEYPARSONS, LLC, Appellee.

Page 509

Joe P. Josephson, Joe P. Josephson Law Office, Anchorage, for Appellant.

Thomas M. Daniel, Perkins Coie LLP, Anchorage, for Appellee.

Before: FABE, Chief Justice, WINFREE, STOWERS, MAASSEN, and BOLGER, Justices.

OPINION

BOLGER, Justice.

I. INTRODUCTION

An at-will employee was placed on probation and subsequently terminated for making an inappropriate comment at a work party. The employee sued the employer for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The superior court granted summary judgment on both counts. We affirm the superior court's judgment because the employee was an at-will employee, his termination was not a breach of his employment contract, and he failed to present a genuine issue that the employer acted in bad faith.

II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS

Jim Morrison began working for NANA WorleyParsons, LLC (NANA) in 2006. His offer letter stated that he was an at-will employee. NANA's administrative procedures manual also stated that all employees serve at will. Morrison served in a piping design position at a remote work site on the North Slope.

Morrison was demoted from his lead design position in 2009. His supervisor notified Morrison that he was overstepping his authority by attempting to intervene in conflicts between co-workers, and Morrison indicated that he understood the reason for the demotion.

A few months later, Morrison's co-worker sent a long letter to Morrison's supervisor complaining that Morrison was neglecting his duties. The supervisor decided to place Morrison on a performance improvement plan (PIP), which was outlined in a letter signed by both parties. One of the PIP's complaints states, " [Y]ou were the agitator between employees; ... [you had] unnecessary involvement in issues of no concern to you, ... [and] you have not focused on your design duties. Rather, you have contributed to the friction in the group and uneasiness that exists to this day."

The PIP listed six conditions that Morrison must follow to maintain his employment:

A. Effective immediately, you will not dispose of any material in a place not clearly identified as the acceptable receptacle. You will comply, without deviation, with all environmental ...

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