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INTERNATIONAL CITY MGMT. ASSN. RETIREMENT CORP. V.

October 16, 1989

THE INTERNATIONAL CITY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION RETIREMENT CORPORATION, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
HAROLD C. WATKINS, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPORKIN

 STANLEY SPORKIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 I. BACKGROUND

 The matter before this Court is a civil diversity action between Plaintiff-Defendant, The International City Management Association Retirement Corporation ("ICMA-RC"), and Defendant-Plaintiff, Harold C. Watkins. ICMA-RC is a corporation whose primary business is the provision of administrative services for retirement plans established and maintained by local governments for the benefit of their employees. From June 1981, until his discharge on April 30, 1987, Mr. Watkins was employed by ICMA-RC in its Washington office as a corporate vice president.

 ICMA-RC initiated this action against Watkins alleging: wrongful conversion of ICMA-RC property, misuse of ICMA-RC client lists and trade secrets, tortious interference with the contractual and business relations between ICMA-RC and its clients, a breach by Watkins of the fiduciary duties he owed to ICMA-RC, and the breach of a consulting contract between ICMA-RC and Watkins. In his Amended Counterclaim, Watkins has asserted four grounds for recovery against ICMA-RC: (1) breach of a consulting contract between Watkins and ICMA-RC; (2) wrongful discharge and damage to professional reputation; (3) a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981; and (4) intentional interference with business and contractual relations.

 ICMA-RC moves to dismiss the second, third, and fourth counts of the Amended Counterclaim and the Court is prepared to rule on the motion. To the extent that this Court considers matters outside the pleadings, *fn1" ICMA-RC's Motion to Dismiss will be treated as a Motion for Summary Judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6).

 II. DISCUSSION

 Watkins, in his opposition to this motion to dismiss, asserts that there is a choice of law issue involved in this matter. *fn2" However, it is clear that the common law claims asserted by Watkins are controlled by the local law of the District of Columbia. Erie Railroad Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 78, 82 L. Ed. 1188, 58 S. Ct. 817 (1938). Although ICMA-RC is a Delaware corporation, it has its principal place of business in the District of Columbia. Amended Counterclaim para. 3. In addition, Watkins was employed at ICMA-RC's corporate office and all of the events that form the basis of his claims occurred within the District of Columbia. Amended Counterclaim para. 16. The Court finds Watkins's arguments in favor of the application of another jurisdiction's law to be unpersuasive. It is clear to the court that the District of Columbia has an overriding interest in regulating the relationships that exist between employers, who operate within the District of Columbia, and their employees.

 A. Wrongful Discharge

 Watkins alleges that his dismissal by ICMA-RC constitutes a breach of the corporation's employer-employee contractual relations. Amended Counterclaim, para. 39. However, it is well-settled law in the District of Columbia that an employment contract is terminable at will unless it is for a specified term. Buttell v. American Podiatric Medical Assoc., 700 F. Supp. 592, 600 (D.D.C. 1988); Newman v. Legal Services Corp., 628 F. Supp. 535, 538 (D.D.C. 1986). Employment contracts of an indefinite duration can be terminated at will by either employer or employee with no ensuing liability on the part of either. Hall v. Ford, 272 U.S. App. D.C. 301, 856 F.2d 255, 267 (D.C.Cir. 1988); Keller v. Assoc. of American Medical Colleges, 644 F. Supp. 459, 465 (D.D.C. 1985), aff'd, 256 U.S. App. D.C. 89, 802 F.2d 1483 (D.C.Cir. 1986). Thus, an at-will employee may be "terminated for any reason -- right or wrong -- or for no reason at all." Newman, 628 F. Supp. at 538; see also Taylor v. Greenway Restaurant, Inc., 173 A.2d 211 (D.C. 1961).

 In the instant case, Watkins has acknowledged in his Amended Counterclaim that he was hired by ICMA-RC for an "indefinite term." Amended Counterclaim, para. 17. Given the District of Columbia's employment at-will doctrine, it is therefore clear that Watkins was an at-will employee who could be terminated at anytime. Watkins has failed to allege that he had an employment contract for a specific period of time. As a result, his claim for wrongful discharge must fail.

 Watkins seeks to avoid the clear import of District of Columbia law by alleging that his discharge falls within a public policy exception to the District of Columbia's employment at-will doctrine. In support of this argument, he alleges that his termination was in retaliation for his having called possible federal securities law violations to the attention of ICMA-RC top management. Although a public policy exception to the employment at-will doctrine has been recognized in other jurisdictions, this Court is bound by District of Columbia law. In Hall v. Ford, supra, the Court of Appeals directly addressed this issue. The Hall court, after reviewing the decisions of the D.C. Court of Appeals, concluded that the D.C. courts have "refused to create an exception to this [at-will] rule for dismissals that violate public policy." Id. As a basis for this conclusion, the Hall court focused upon the D.C. Court of Appeals refusal in Ivy v. Army Times Publishing Co., 428 A.2d 831 (D.C. 1981) to grant an en banc rehearing to a case in which a panel of the court had dismissed, in an unpublished memorandum opinion, an employee's complaint which alleged a dismissal in violation of public policy. After reviewing D.C. law, the Hall court unequivocally declared: "The Clear lesson of Ivy is that the District of Columbia does not currently recognize a public policy exception to the at-will termination doctrine." Hall, 856 F.2d at 267. In accordance with the decision in Hall, this court finds that Watkins' claim for wrongful discharge must be dismissed as a matter of law.

 B. Defamation: Damage to Reputation

 Watkins alleges that he has been defamed by ICMA-RC's "communications to public employers and public officials [which contained] false and defamatory statements about Harold Watkins." Amended Counterclaim para. 53. The only communication specifically identified in the Counterclaim, however, is the January 1989 ...


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