Never date a client. Plaintiff was fired from her position for dating a client. She worked for a small nonprofit that provided clients with education, counseling, and other social services. She sued for wrongful termination, claiming that the Lawful Activities statutory exception to at-will employment protected her actions. That statute creates an exception from at-will termination for lawful off-the-job activities. An exception to that exception is that an employer may fire an employee to avoid a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest. The court of appeals held that such conflicts are not limited to financial conflicts or conflicts that actually interfere with work. Finding the evidence sufficient to support termination, the court affirmed dismissal of plaintiff’s suit.
Tag Archives: Conflict of Interest
In Re Emily Liebnow v. Boston Enterprises Inc. d/b/a Giacomo’s, U.S. Foodservice, Tanimura & Antle Fresh Foods, Inc. et. al.
“The closed mouth catches no flies” – B. Franklin. This case involves the disqualification of an entire firm based on an unwaivable conflict of interest. Defense counsel had a friendly relationship with an out-of-state plaintiff’s Firm specializing in e-coli cases and consulted with a lawyer at the Firm about an e-coli case. Defense counsel followed some of his advice. In the same case, Plaintiff hired a different lawyer from the same Firm. The trial court denied pro hac vice admission, effectively disqualifying the Firm. The Court upheld the trial court’s ruling that under the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) an unwaivable conflict was created under RPC 1.7, and that RPC 1.10 imputed that conflict to the entire firm. The Court also held that RPC 1.7 conflicts apply to third parties, and here the conflict was unwaivable becase it undermined the fairness of the proceedings.