CHARLESTON – Marriott International has defeated claims brought by a former employee who said he was fired for exposing an affair his supervisor was having.
On Jan. 30, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin granted Marriott’s motion to dismiss two of the claims made by Brett Horton, a 21-year employee who was fired in September 2010. Those claims alleged Marriott and supervisor Christa Wilson intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him and that he was unlawfully retaliated against.
With two remaining claims, Horton settled the lawsuit on March 4.
“Horton has not pled sufficient factual allegations to support his claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress,” Goodwin wrote.
“Horton’s claim is based off of his allegations regarding (1) breach of contract; (2) age discrimination; and (3) retaliation from Wilson because he told Wilson’s fiancé that Wilson was having an affair.
“Horton alleges no facts indicating that the way he was terminated was atrocious, intolerable, extreme or outrageous. Horton alleges no facts indicating that Wilson acted ‘with the intent to inflict emotional distress, or acted recklessly when it was certain or substantially certain emotional distress would result from [her] conduct.’”
In dismissing the unlawful retaliation claim, Goodwin said nothing in the complaint suggested Horton engaged in any protected activity.
“The reason Horton gives for the alleged retaliation was that he told Wilson’s fiancé that Wilson was having an affair,” Goodwin wrote.
“Informing a supervisor’s fiancé of an affair is simply not a protected activity, and Horton does not allege any other acts he engaged in that could be considered protected.”
Representing Horton was Louie Thompson Price and Tom Price of Holroyd & Yost in Charleston. Marriott was represented by Jennifer S. Greenleaf and Eric W. Iskra of Spilman Thomas & Battle.
Horton’s two remaining claims after Goodwin’s decision alleged Marriott did not treat him fairly or use progressive disciplinary procedures, as he says the employee handbook guaranteed him, and that Marriott violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act through age discrimination.
From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org.