Yesterday, the Mississippi Supreme Court decided Robert Swindol v. Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation. The Court found that an employee may not be fired for having gun locked in car on employer’s parking lot. This was a certified question from the Fifth Circuit.
The district court had dismissed Swindol’s wrongful discharge and defamation claims under FRCP 12(b)(6) holding that Mississippi’s employment-at-will doctrine barred the wrongful discharge claim and that falsity had not been adequately alleged for the defamation claim. The Fifth Circuit, noting that the “wrongful discharge claim presents an important and determinative question of state law that has not been addressed by Mississippi courts” certified the issue asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to tell them what Mississippi law is. The Court found: “The Legislature has ‘independently declared’ via Section 45-9-55 that terminating an employee for having a firearm inside his locked vehicle is ‘legally impermissible.'” Aurora may be liable for firing Swindol in contravention of state law.