Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Virginia

by
After his employment as the Town of Warrenton’s Building Official ended, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint against the Town requesting a writ of mandamus to reappoint him as “the executive official in charge of the Warrenton building division” as a remedy for the Town’s alleged violation of a local regulation. The Town filed a demurrer, contending that Plaintiff did not allege facts demonstrating that he was ever permanently appointed as the Town’s Building Official. The circuit court sustained the demurrer, concluding that the alleged facts did not demonstrate that the Town had made a “permanent appointment” of Plaintiff as Building Official. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Plaintiff alleged sufficient facts to survive a demurrer and to permit the reasonable inference that he was permanently appointed as the Building Official for the Town. Remanded. View "Hale v. Town of Warrenton" on Justia Law

by
Appellant filed suit against Appellee, her former employer, alleging wrongful discharge in violation of public policy under Bowman v. State Bank of Keysville. The trial court sustained Appellee’s demurrer, which alleged that there were no sufficient allegations of a true public policy violation. Appellant then filed an amended complaint asserting a claim for wrongful termination under Bowman based on allegations that Appellee wrongfully discharged her in violation of the public policy embodied in Va. Code 19.2-152.7:1 through 19.2-152.10. The trial court sustained Appellee’s amended demurrer with prejudice. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the amended complaint filed by Appellant failed to state a claim for wrongful termination under Bowman, the circuit court did not err in dismissing it with prejudice. View "Francis v. National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against the Virginia Department of State Police (VSP), an agency of the Commonwealth, under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) alleging that he was denied a promotion because of his service in the United States Army Reserves. The trial court granted the VSP’s plea of sovereign immunity and dismissed Plaintiff’s USERRA claim, concluding that the VSP could not be sued on a federal right of action in state court absent a waiver of sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly held that sovereign immunity barred Plaintiff’s USERRA claim against the VSP. View "Clark v. Virginia Department of State Police" on Justia Law

by
After Frances Robinson was fired from her employment with the Salvation Army, she filed a wrongful termination suit alleging that she was terminated for refusing requests from her store manager to engage in fornication. Robbins claimed common law wrongful termination for refusing to commit fornication and contended that the fornication statute, Va. Code Ann. 18.2-344, remained viable as a basis for her common law wrongful termination claim despite the ruling in Martin v. Ziherl that the statute was unconstitutional. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Salvation Army. Robinson appealed, asking the Supreme Court to find that section 18.2-344 provides the basis for a valid public policy ground to support her Bowman v. State Bank of Keysville claim for wrongful termination. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 18.2-344 does not support a public policy Bowman claim for wrongful termination in this case; and (2) the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment for the Salvation Army. View "Robinson v. Salvation Army" on Justia Law

by
In 2001, Plaintiff, a member of the United States Army Reserve, was hired by the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office (the Sheriff) as a deputy sheriff. In 2009, Plaintiff was deployed to Afghanistan, where she suffered physical and psychological injuries. In 2011, Plaintiff returned from Afghanistan and was rehired by the Sheriff. The Sheriff later terminated Plaintiff’s employment in 2013 due to her inability to return to work in a full-time capacity. Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging (1) the Sheriff failed properly to reemploy Plaintiff and failed to make reasonable efforts to accommodate her disability in violation of 38 U.S.C. 4313, and (2) the Sheriff was required to allow Plaintiff a two-year convalescence period before terminating her employment pursuant to 38 U.S.C. 4312. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the Sheriff, concluding that sections 4312 and 4313 were inapplicable to Plaintiff’s claims because they apply only until the moment of reemployment and because the Sheriff rehired Plaintiff in the same position that she had left during her deployment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that sections 4312 and 4313 afford returning service members protection only during the act of rehiring, and because the Sheriff promptly rehired Plaintiff upon her return from deployment, summary judgment was proper. View "Huff v. Winston" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed suit against his former employer (Defendant), claiming that Defendant violated Va. Code Ann. 40.1-51.2:1 by terminating his employment in retaliation for his complaining about unsafe practices at Defendant’s facility. Plaintiff sought punitive damages in addition to other remedies. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff and awarded him compensatory and punitive damages. The circuit court entered judgment in accordance with the verdict. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment as to the award of punitive damages and otherwise affirmed, holding that “appropriate relief” in section 40.1-51.2:2, the provision providing the remedies for violations of section 40.1-51.2:1, does not include punitive damages. View "Property Damage Specialists, Inc. v. Rechichar" on Justia Law

by
Andrews, a senior property manager of a public housing complex, challenged the termination of her employment with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority (RRHA) through RRHA’s grievance procedure. A hearing officer ordered her reinstatement snf advised that, under the terms of RRHA’s Grievance Policy, “[e]ither party may . . . appeal the decision to the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, Virginia.” The circuit court reversed that decision as “‘contradictory to law’” under Code 2.2-3006. The Supreme Court of Virginia reinstated the hearing officer’s decision, holding that the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear RRHA’s appeal. Either party may appeal a hearing officer’s decision to a circuit court for review on grounds that it is “contradictory to law,” Code 2.2-3006(B), but no such right is available when the challenge to the decision presents a question whether it is“consistent with policy,” RRHA did not make a prima facie showing for invoking judicial review of the hearing officer’s decision under Code 2.2-3006(B) because the substance of RRHA’s appeal challenged only the hearing officer’s interpretation and application of RRHA’s policies. View "Andrews v. Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Auth." on Justia Law

by
Johnston worked at William E. Wood & Associates, a real estate services firm, for 17 years. She was an at-will employee. Johnston’s employer terminated her without any advance notice. She sued, alleging that she was wrongfully discharged and that her employer breached an implied term of her employment contract. The trial court dismissed, holding that Virginia does not recognize either cause of action. The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed, noting its 1906 holding that when an employment contract does not specify a time period for its duration, “either party is ordinarily at liberty to terminate it at-will on giving reasonable notice of his intention to do so.” Reasonable notice simply means effectual notice that employment has been terminated. View "Johnston v. Wood & Assocs" on Justia Law

by
Scott Harvard was a former senior executive officer of Shore Bank and Hampton Roads Bankshares (HRB). During the 2008 financial crisis, HRB elected to participate in the federal Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). The TARP agreement required HRB to comply with the limits on executive compensation set forth in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) and its implementing regulations. In 2009, Harvard terminated his employment. Thereafter, Harvard filed a breach of contract action against Shore Bank and HRB alleging that HRB breached the parties’ employment agreement by refusing to make a “golden parachute payment” pursuant to the agreement. HRB filed a plea in bar, arguing that the prohibition on golden parachute payments in EESA section 111, as implemented by the June Rule, barred it from paying Harvard pursuant to the employment agreement. The circuit court rejected HRB’s argument and awarded Harvard $655,495 plus interest. The Supreme Court reversed and vacated the award of damages in favor of Harvard, holding that EESA section 111, as implemented by the June Rule, prohibited the golden parachute payment under the circumstances of this case. View "Hampton Roads Bankshares, Inc. v. Harvard" on Justia Law

by
In 1992, Plaintiff was convicted of a felony drug offense. In 2006, Plaintiff applied to the Fairfax County School Board for a teaching position and disclosed her prior conviction on her application. The Board subsequently hired Plaintiff as a special education teacher. In 2012, the school system’s Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources determined that, pursuant to Va. Code 22.1-296.1(A), Plaintiff’s 2006 hiring had been in error because her conviction made her ineligible for employment by the Board. The Board subsequently filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that section 22.1-296.1(A) made Plaintiff ineligible for hire. The circuit court entered an order declaring that the Board lacked authority to hire Plaintiff under section 22.1-296.1(A). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board lacked authority to make the contract, and therefore, the contract was void ab initio. View "Butler v. Fairfax County School Board" on Justia Law