Current Pending Cases – Civil

Heather Smith v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee (Retaliatory Discharge)

Style: Heather Smith v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee

TSC Docket Number: E2022-01058-SC-R11-CV

Court of Appeals Opinion:

Summary by the Court of Appeals:

This appeal concerns a claim of retaliatory discharge. Heather Smith (“Smith”), then an at-will employee of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Inc. (“BlueCross”), declined to take a Covid-19 vaccine. Smith emailed members of the Tennessee General Assembly expressing her concerns and grievances about vaccine mandates. BlueCross fired Smith after it found out about her emails. Smith sued BlueCross for common law retaliatory discharge in the Chancery Court for Hamilton County (“the Trial Court”). For its part, BlueCross filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. After a hearing, the Trial Court granted BlueCross’s motion to dismiss. Smith appeals. We hold that Article I, Section 23 of the Tennessee Constitution, which guarantees the right of citizens to petition the government, is a clear and unambiguous statement of public policy representing an exception to the doctrine of employment-at-will. Smith has alleged enough at this stage to withstand BlueCross’s motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. We reverse the Trial Court and remand for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

Permission to Appeal Granted: November 20, 2023

Appellants’ Briefs Filed: January 19, 2024

Appellees’ Briefs Filed: March 20, 2024

Appellants’ Reply Brief Filed: April 3, 2024

Appellees’ Reply Brief Filed:

Amicus Briefs Permitted:  

Oral Argument Date: May 22, 2024

Link to Oral Argument Video:  

Date of TSC Opinion:  

Opinion of the TSC: 

TSC Summary of the Opinion:


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