and reprehensible, I hold that it does not rise to the level of outrageousness required by the caselaw. The claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress is therefore dismissed.
IV. New York Law Does Not Recognize an Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing in At-Will Employment Contracts
ATF has also moved to dismiss plaintiff's breach of contract claim, asserting that New York law does not recognize an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in employment at will relationships. Plaintiff responds that the extensive caselaw cited by ATF relates only to the absence of a limitation on the employer's right to terminate an employee at will; she contends that her claim is based instead upon ATF's and Andrews's interference with her ability to perform while still employed. Plaintiff, however, is unable to point to any case in support of her view that an implied covenant is present with respect to issues other than termination in at will employment relationships.
Independent research has also failed to turn up any such case, and I am convinced that the absence of any supporting law confirms that Ms. Nunez's position is inconsistent with the policies underlying New York's rejection of an implied covenant in at will employment. As the courts within this district have repeatedly recognized, well-settled New York law holds that no implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing attaches to at-will employment contracts. See, e.g., Boritz v. Financial Information Servs. Agency, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11063, No. 94 Civ. 5059 (JSM), 1995 WL 464955, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. 1995); Tischmann v. ITT/Sheraton Corp., 882 F. Supp. 1358, 1367 (S.D.N.Y. 1995); Peterson v. Insurance Co. of N. Am., 822 F. Supp. 1040, 1044 (S.D.N.Y. 1993). The basis for this rule is that an obligation to abide by an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing would be inconsistent with the employer's unfettered right to terminate an at-will employee. Sabetay v. Sterling Drug, Inc., 69 N.Y.2d 329, 335-36, 514 N.Y.S.2d 209, 506 N.E.2d 919 (1987); Murphy v. American Home Prods. Corp., 58 N.Y.2d 293, 304-05, 461 N.Y.S.2d 232, 448 N.E.2d 86 (1983).
To impose such an obligation with respect to issues other than discharge would be equally inconsistent with the employer's unrestricted right of termination. Every contract (other than an agreement for employment at will) under New York law includes "an implied undertaking on the part of each party that he will not intentionally and purposely do anything to prevent the other party from carrying out the agreement on his part." Grad v. Roberts, 14 N.Y.2d 70, 248 N.Y.S.2d 633, 637, 198 N.E.2d 26 (1964), quoted in Tagare v. Nynex Network Sys. Co., 921 F. Supp. 1146, 1150 (S.D.N.Y. 1996). In an employment at will contract, however, either party has the right to take the ultimate step to render performance impossible, because either party can terminate the relationship, at any time, for any reason. Under the circumstances, to imply a lesser obligation not to obviate performance other than by discharging the employee would be patently illogical.
The case of Boritz v. Financial Information Servs. Agency, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11063, No. 94 Civ. 5059 (JSM), 1995 WL 464955, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. 1995) seems to rest on the same conclusions. There, Judge Martin dismissed the breach of contract claim of a discharged employee who alleged that the defendant not only unlawfully terminated him but also acted in bad faith by "creating false charges against him in an effort to prevent him from enjoying his contract rights." Id. Judge Knapp rejected the contract claims of a plaintiff who alleged grievances very similar to those asserted by the plaintiff in the present case, based on identical reasoning. Kelly v. Quotron Sys., Inc., 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4602, No. 91 Civ. 5408 (WK), 1993 WL 106048, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. 1993). Because New York law does not impose an obligation of good faith and fair dealing on the parties to an at will employment agreement, the breach of contract action must be dismissed.
Plaintiff in the present case has pleaded allegations of egregious conduct which, if proved, would surely entitle her to relief. Nonetheless, the legal theories under which she may lay claim to that relief are not infinite. Because plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of her claims for slander, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and breach of contract, those claims are dismissed. Counsel shall appear for a conference at 9:30 a.m. on February 14, 1997, in Courtroom 12A, 500 Pearl Street, New York, New York, to discuss the anticipated progress of plaintiff's remaining claims, including a proposed discovery schedule.
Dated: February 10, 1997
New York, New York
LORETTA A. PRESKA, U.S.D.J.
© 1992-2004 VersusLaw Inc.