Moreover, the termination procedures outlined in the manual are not designed to confer any procedural rights on the company's employees, but rather to provide direction to supervisors and protect defendant from unwarranted claims. The manual states that managers are to file a report following any termination explaining whether the discharge was for cause or for unsatisfactory work "with a complete explanation to permit the Company to contest unwarranted unemployment claims." DRG Personnel Manual at 16. Defendant's Exhibit 18. The language of the personnel manual and its express disclaimers belie plaintiff's contention that it creates contractual obligations on the part of defendant.
Second, plaintiff's attempt to overcome the "at will" doctrine by asserting that statements by DRG employees and the DRG personnel manual that he obtained after accepting employment created a contractual obligation of permanent employment fails as a matter of law. The claim that an "at will" contract can mature through expectancy to a "for cause" contract is fallacious. See e.g., Fleming v. AT & T Information Services, Inc., 279 U.S. App. D.C. 15, 878 F.2d 1472, 1474 (D.C.Cir. 1989), Smith v. Chamber of Commerce of United States, 645 F. Supp. 604, 611 (D.D.C. 1986). As the Court of Appeals recently stated, "evidence of [plaintiff's] subjective belief in the permanence of his employment does not create a material issue as to whether he and [his employer] together agreed to lifetime employment." Minihan, supra at 728. In this jurisdiction, "more than conclusive allegations in the pleadings or [plaintiff's] belief in the permanence of employment are necessary to raise a material issue of genuine fact precluding the grant of summary judgment." Sullivan, supra at 859.
Therefore, the Court finds that plaintiff was an "at will" employee and has thus failed to offer proof of an essential element of his breach of contract claim. Moreover, plaintiff has also failed to establish an essential element of his wrongful termination claim. This jurisdiction does not recognize a tort of wrongful discharge for "at will" employees. See Ivy v. Army Times Publishing Co., No. 8018-77, petition for reh'g en banc denied, 428 A.2d 831 (D.C. 1981) (en banc). Moreover, D.C. law does not recognize a public policy exception to the at will termination doctrine. Hall v. Ford, 272 U.S. App. D.C. 301, 856 F.2d 255, 267 (D.C.Cir. 1988). As discussed above, plaintiff has failed to establish that he was anything other than an "at will" employee. Thus, defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the wrongful discharge claim.
The instant case is properly disposed of by summary judgment because "a complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-323, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). For the reasons set forth above, defendant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Accordingly, the Court grants defendant's motion for summary judgment in its entirety.
A separate order shall accompany this opinion.
DATE: December 13, 1989
ORDER - December 13, 1989, Filed
Upon consideration of Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, the opposition thereto, the arguments of counsel, and in accordance with the Court's opinion of this date it is hereby
ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment be and hereby is granted; and
FURTHER ORDERED that judgment be and hereby is granted for defendant on all counts.
DATE: December 13, 1989