Jameson v. Pacific Gas & Elec. Co., 16 Cal. App. 5th 901 (2017)

Steve Jameson worked for PG&E for more than 26 years before his employment as a regional construction manager was terminated. Prior to the termination, PG&E retained an outside investigator who was a former PG&E staff lawyer who had investigated (personally or through another member of her law firm) approximately 100 alleged violations of PG&E’s code of conduct during the previous year. The investigator (Jennie Lee) spent approximately 50 hours on this case over the course of two months, during which time she interviewed 10 individuals. Lee concluded that Jameson had retaliated against another employee who had made a safety-related complaint, and, based upon Lee’s investigation, PG&E terminated Jameson’s employment. Jameson then sued for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of PG&E, and the Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that PG&E had good cause as a matter of law to terminate Jameson because it had relied upon Lee’s investigation. The Court further held that “the issue is not whether Lee’s conclusions were correct or whether her investigation could have been better or more comprehensive. The question, rather, is whether PG&E’s determination … was reached honestly, after an appropriate investigation and for reasons that are not arbitrary or pretextual.” See also ITV Gurney Holding Inc. v. Gurney, 2017 WL 6016111 (Cal. Ct. App. 2017) (“Duck Dynasty” producers have no contractual right to be reinstated to their positions managing the day-to-day operations of the company, but could continue as members of the board of managers).