Submitted April 23, 2019
from the Court of Appeals for Franklin County, No. 16AP-885,
& Liming, L.L.C., and Sharon Cason-Adams, for appellee.
Yost, Ohio Attorney General, Benjamin M. Flowers, Deputy
Solicitor, Michael J. Hendershot, Chief Deputy Solicitor, and
Lee Ann Rabe, Assistant Attorney General, for appellants.
Gittes Law Group, Frederick M. Gittes, and Jeffrey P.
Vardaro, urging affirmance for amicus curiae Ohio Employment
Spangler Starling and Jason E. Starling, urging affirmance
for amicus curiae Ohio Association for Justice.
1} In Greeley v. Miami Valley Maintenance
Contrs., Inc., 49 Ohio St.3d 228, 551 N.E.2d 981 (1990),
we recognized a public-policy exception to the
employment-at-will doctrine and held that an employee may
maintain a common-law tort action when the employee has been
discharged or disciplined for a reason prohibited by statute,
id. at paragraph one of the syllabus. This
discretionary appeal requires us to determine whether
Ohio's civil-service laws express a public policy that
would give rise to Greeley claims by public
employees terminated during their probationary period.
2} Appellee, James Miracle, filed a complaint
alleging that his former employer, the Ohio Department of
Veterans Services, wrongfully terminated him during his
probationary period at the direction of the governor's
office. The Tenth District Court of Appeals unanimously
reversed the trial court's dismissal of Miracle's
complaint under Civ.R. 12(B)(6). Appellants, the department
and the governor's office (collectively, "the
state"), have appealed the Tenth District's
3} We conclude that R.C. 124.27(B) and 124.56, the
civil-service statutes invoked by Miracle, do not express a
clear public policy providing the basis for a
wrongful-discharge claim by a probationary employee. We
therefore reverse the judgment of the court of appeals and
reinstate the trial court's order dismissing
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
4} Miracle's claims arise from the termination
of his employment as an administrative officer and facilities
manager of the veterans' home located in Sandusky, Ohio.
As alleged in Miracle's complaint, prior to his hiring in
2015, Miracle had advised the superintendent of the Sandusky
Veterans Home, known as the Sandusky Domiciliary, and a
deputy director of the Department of Veterans Services of his
adverse job history at the Ohio Department of Corrections.
Miracle had previously worked as a building-construction
superintendent at the Mansfield Correctional Institution. In
July 2013, an inmate escaped from the Mansfield facility.
After an investigation of the incident, the Department of
Corrections terminated Miracle for failing to secure tools
and for falsifying tool-inventory documents. Pending
Miracle's appeal of his termination before the State
Personnel Board of Review ("SPBR") and after the
negotiation of a settlement, the Department of Corrections
reinstated Miracle to a position at a different correctional
5} According to Miracle, the superintendent of the
Sandusky Domiciliary assured Miracle that his adverse job
history would not pose a problem. Miracle began working in
February 2015 as a probationary employee of the Department of
Veterans Affairs. At his June 9, 2015 performance review,
Miracle received ratings of "meets expectations" or
"exceeds expectations" in each category. Six days
later, during Miracle's probationary period, the
department's human-resources director informed Miracle
that the department was terminating his employment because it
"was moving in a different direction." The
department declined to provide any additional information.
Miracle later learned that Jai Chabria, a senior advisor to
Governor John Kasich, had directed the superintendent to
terminate Miracle because of negative press about
Miracle's alleged involvement in the Mansfield inmate
6} Following his termination, Miracle filed a
four-count complaint in the Ohio Court of Claims against the
Department of Veterans Services and the governor's
office. Count One alleges that Miracle's termination
violated the public policy articulated in R.C. 124.27(B) in
favor of retaining probationary employees who have
satisfactorily performed their duties. Count Two asserts a
claim for wrongful discharge in violation of the public
policy articulated in R.C. 124.56. That statute provides for
an investigation and possible removal of an appointing
authority who has appointed, removed or suspended an employee
in violation of R.C. Chapter 124. Count Three asserts
wrongful discharge in violation of the procedural protections
guaranteed by R.C. 124.34 and the Fourteenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution. Count Four asks for a
determination that Chabria is not entitled to immunity under
7} The state filed a motion to dismiss Miracle's
complaint under Civ.R. 12(B)(6) for failure to state a claim.
The trial court granted the motion.
8} On appeal, the Tenth District Court of Appeals
reversed and remanded, reinstating the wrongful-discharge
claims Miracle asserted in Counts One and Two based on R.C.
124.27(B) and 124.56, respectively. The court also reinstated
Miracle's request for an immunity determination in Count
Four, which the trial court had dismissed for lack of an
underlying state-law claim. But the court determined that
Miracle had abandoned Count Three's wrongful-discharge
claim for failure to assert any related assignment of error.
9} We accepted the state's discretionary appeal,
153 Ohio St.3d 1402, 2018-Ohio-2380, 100 N.E.3d 422, which
presents two propositions of law:
1. A Greeley tort is not available under R.C. 124.27
or 124.56 and, more generally, statutes about public
employment ordinarily should ...