In Spyridakis v. Riesling Group, Inc., 2009 WL 3209478 (E.D. Pa. 2009), the plaintiff-employee brought a claim for wrongful termination on the basis of defendant-employer’s alleged violations of public policy, specifically the right to free speech and to petition government under the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions. Additionally, Spyridakis claimed that federal and state labor, employment, and tax laws were also violated. Spyridakis alleged that Riesling Group terminated her for “inquiring with the Bureau about whether defendant properly treated her employment as that of an independent contractor” and the defendant evaded federal and state laws by “classifying workers as independent contractors, but treating them as employees.”
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed Spyridakis’ wrongful termination claim because of her failure to identify a particular statute, or other source of public policy, that proscribes such conduct. The court explained that under Pennsylvania law, a plaintiff, under these circumstances, must point to specific violations of federal or state law to the extent they embody public policy, and show that they have been violated. The court further explained that Pennsylvania law limits claims of constitutional violations of public policy to incidents involving state actors (and here, the employer was not a state actor).