Martin Marietta Corp vs. Paul M. Lorenz
Claims for wrongful discharge under the public-policy exception have included termination of employees for: (1) refusal to participate in illegal activity, (2) the employee’s refusal to forsake the performance of an important public duty or obligation, (3) the employee’s refusal to forego the exercise of a job-related legal right or privilege, (4) the employee’s “whistleblowing” activity or other conduct exposing the employer’s wrongdoing, and (5) the employee’s performance of an act that public policy would encourage under circumstances where retaliatory discharge is supported by evidence of employer’s bad faith, malice, or retaliation.
The case started with Mr. Lorenz a decorated mechanical engineer with 16 years experience in fracture mechanics and almost a doctorate in metallurgy joined Martin Marietta, a aerospace manufacturer and contractor for NASA, in 1972. Lorenz worked in Martin Marietta’s research and development department as a “principle investigator”. Lorenz was responsible for the organization and quality control of the projects assigned to him. In the fall of 1973, while working on the NDI Contract, Lorenz expressed his concern for a lack of adequate data for the project to be deemed safe.
The supervisors of Lorenz were not happy with his comments. In 1974 Lorenz unhappy with the communication of his concerns to the client, approached NASA directly and revealed his concerns. This caused a meeting between all parties to take place and Lorenz was asked to take the minutes. Upon review of the minutes one of the managers asked Lorenz to modify the minutes to retract some of the statements made. Lorenz refused. Lorenz then was assigned the “Mixed Mode Contract” in which he was once again the “principle investigator.
The project was to design and construct a Biaxial Test fixture to measure the complex stresses in aluminum alloys used in space shuttle. In August of 1974 Lorenz wrote a memorandum to his supervisors regarding problems with the project and described an abundance of deficiencies that needed to be addressed. When Lorenz asked why the machines design and construction was so poor he was told that the machine had been built for $10,000 rather than the $25,000 which had been allocated for the project.
The third project Lorenz was assigned was the NASA space vehicle known as “The Tug. ” Lorenz’s involvement in the project was to investigate and evaluate the fracture propensities of thin gauge aluminum to be used in the fuel tank. Lorenz testified that, although he was pressured by his superiors to attest to the adequacy of certain materials, he refused to write a final report attesting to the quality of the materials. His refusal was based on his professional opinion that the materials had not been subjected to adequate testing.
According to Lorenz, he told his superiors that to compromise on this issue would jeopardize his integrity and his usefulness to Martin Marietta as an expert and, in addition, would constitute a fraud on NASA. 3. Holding of the Court Martin Marietta fired Lorenz following this project on July 22, 1975 claiming a layoff due to a lack of work. Lorenz worked until July 25, 1975. On July 24, 1981 Lorenz filed a tort claim against Martin Marietta for wrongful discharge.
The court affirmed a judgment of the appellate court, which reversed the trial court, which entered a directed verdict against respondent employee in his wrongful discharge action against petitioner employer. The court held that the discharge of respondent for refusing to perform acts in violation of federal criminal statutes supported a claim for wrongful discharge under the public policy exception to at-will employment. II. Analysis 1. Rights of the Plaintiff a. The right to a workplace without Discrimination & Harassment. b. The right to fair pay and time off. c. The right to a safe and healthy workplace. d. The right to personal privacy. . Responsibilities of the Plaintiff.
Responsible for coming to work on time and for all scheduled workdays. b. Responsible for completing the required work while on the clock. c. Responsible for loyalty of the company and its concepts. d. Responsible to perform the job duties outlined in the job description. 3. Rights of the Defendant a. The right to earn a profit. b. The right to make managerial decisions based on the good of the company. c. The right to maintain a budget. d. The right to determine teaming. 4. Responsibilities of the Defendant a. Responsible for creating a safe and non hostile work environment.
Responsible for paying wages for completed work. c. Responsible for conducting business in a legal manner. d. Responsible to uphold ethical and moral practices in the workplace. 5. Ethical Theory As defined in the textbook, “Utilitarianism is a general term for the view that actions and policies should be evaluated on the basis of the benefits and costs they produce for everyone in society. Specifically, utilitarianism holds that the morality right course of action in any situation is the one that, when compared to all other possible actions, will produce the greatest balance of benefits over costs for everyone affected. (Velasquez, 2012, p. 78)
Under the premise of Utilitarianism, Lorenz was justified in his action of taking the actions that he did in that it brought the most good to the most people. During the NDI Contract if Lorenz had not spoke up against the wishes of Martin Marietta, the NASA space shuttle could have had a stress fracture in space and many people could have died and millions of dollars of equipment would have been destroyed.
Although for Martin Marietta at the time the extra testing would have been expensive and cut into the profit of the project. The cost of a lawsuit for defective equipment and possibly murder would have cost Martin Marietta much more in the long run. This does not take into consideration the reputation damages that would occur if the space shuttle failure did result in the death of the astronauts and the loss of a shuttle. The American people would forever associate Martin Marietta with the disaster that took place.
Lorenz also saved the American taxpayers the cost of a lost shuttle. According to NASA, “The Space Shuttle Endeavour, the orbiter built to replace the Space Shuttle Challenger, cost approximately $1. 7 billion. ” (National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA], 2012, figure 1) That $1. 7 billion is paid for by every hard working American in the country and for Martin Marietta to overlook that to save a few dollars of profit goes against the entire concept of utilitarianism ethics. By gambling with American tax dollars for the sole gain of the company Martin Marietta is not looking out for the greater good and what benefits the most people, especially not the American people.