Dore v. Arnold Worldwide, Inc., 39 Cal. 4th 384 (2006)

Brook Dore, who was employed as a management supervisor, countersigned an employment agreement (in the form of a letter) that characterized his employment as “at-will,” which was defined as the right of either party to terminate the employment “at any time.” Although the trial court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment, the court of appeal reversed, and the Supreme Court in turn reversed the appellate court, reinstating summary judgment in favor of the employer. The Supreme Court held that the verbal formulation “at any time” in the termination clause of the employment contract was not ambiguous merely because it did not expressly indicate whether “cause” was or was not required for termination. Therefore, there was no triable issue of material fact as to the claims for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The employer also was entitled to summary adjudication of the claim for promissory fraud because the employee produced insufficient evidence of justifiable reliance given the at-will nature of the employment relationship.