Mississippi Whistleblower Protection Only Available When Alleged Activity is Actually Illegal

Robyn Turner, pharmacist-in-charge at Town Pharmacy and Gifts in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, had a contentious relationship with her employers, Tommy Turfitt and his mother Laurie, from the beginning. The difficulties came to a head five months after the pharmacy opened. Turner alleged the relief pharmacist, Jerry Segura, illegally dispensed a schedule IV medication for a patient without a prescription. She did not, however, ask Segura about the incident even after Tommy told her to. When she approached Tommy two weeks later to discuss Board of Pharmacy regulations, Tommy claims she quit. Turner disputes the way the conversation ended and claims she was fired for her concerns about Segura’s alleged illegal acts. Mississippi adheres to the employment-at-will doctrine with a very narrow public policy exception for refusing to participate in illegal acts or for reporting illegal acts. However, Mississippi law allows a licensed pharmacist to dispense a schedule IV controlled substance with an oral prescription from a doctor which Segura claims to have received. The oral prescription was reduced to writing by the next business day following the law. With no evidence of actual illegal acts, the Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Town Pharmacy.