JOHN PATRICK KONVALINKA, JR.
CRAIG FULLER ET AL.
Session February 21, 2018
from the Circuit Court for Hamilton County No. 12C211 Robert
E. Lee Davies, Senior Judge
retaliatory discharge action, the plaintiff filed suit
against his former employer under both the common law and the
Tennessee Public Protection Act. See Tenn. Code Ann.
§ 50-1-304 (2014). The plaintiff claimed that he was
terminated for voicing his concerns about, or refusing to
participate in, illegal activities. The former employer moved
for summary judgment arguing, in part, that the plaintiff
could not identify a specific illegal activity or a violation
of a clearly established public policy. The trial court
granted the summary judgment motion and dismissed the
plaintiff's claims. Discerning no reversible error, we
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
H. Jenne, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the appellant, John
Patrick Konvalinka, Jr.
Rosemarie L. Hill and Justin L. Furrow, Chattanooga,
Tennessee, for the appellees, Craig Fuller, TransCard, LLC,
Ryan Rogers, and Max Fuller.
Neal McBrayer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which D. Michael Swiney, C.J., and Thomas R. Frierson II, J.,
NEAL McBRAYER, JUDGE
the underlying facts are undisputed. On January 5, 2009, John
Patrick Konvalinka, Jr. began working at TransCard, LLC as
the director of corporate sales. TransCard provided prepaid
debit card services to clients, including corporations,
banks, and government entities. During Mr. Konvalinka's
employment, Max and Craig Fuller owned and managed TransCard.
Craig Fuller served as chief executive officer of the
Fuller also had a partial ownership interest in a separate
company, U.S. Xpress, Inc. In 2010, he asked Ryan Rogers,
vice president of treasury and finance for U.S. Xpress, to
become the chief strategy officer for TransCard. Mr. Rogers
was never employed by TransCard; he remained at all times an
employee of U.S. Xpress. Max Fuller tasked Mr. Rogers with
improving TransCard's operations, efficiencies, quality
control, and financial performance. Mr. Rogers's
responsibilities included things such as "reviewing the
accounting, finance [and] cash flow of the business" and
ensuring that projects for TransCard clients were "set
up properly and completed properly and clean, with as few
errors as possible."
after beginning his new job responsibilities, Mr. Rogers met
with Mr. Konvalinka to discuss TransCard's operations. At
the time, Mr. Konvalinka worked primarily in sales. According
to Mr. Konvalinka, Mr. Rogers invited him to disclose any
problems he perceived in the company's operations. Mr.
Rogers assured him that he could speak freely because there
would be no repercussions from his disclosures. During this
meeting, Mr. Konvalinka reported a number of activities or
procedures that he believed were illegal, noncompliant, or
simply inefficient. Mr. Rogers thanked him for his
"candid and informative" input and promised to
address his concerns.
Rogers recommended that Mr. Konvalinka move from sales to a
business analyst position. The business analyst position
focused on improving various aspects of TransCard's
operations. Mr. Konvalinka reported to Mr. Rogers and
"essentially [did] whatever [Mr. Rogers] instructed
[him] to do." According to Mr. Konvalinka, he also
continued to handle his previous card management duties and
to assist with sales.
business analyst, Mr. Konvalinka repeatedly voiced his
concerns about the company's operations to Mr. Rogers,
other members of management, and his co-workers. Mr.
Konvalinka agreed that the company took steps to correct some
of the deficiencies he identified. His main concerns, as
later outlined in his complaint, were
1. TransCard action and inaction running afoul of the U.S.
2. Violations of and/or non-compliance with the Payment Card
Industry Security Standards Regulations;
3. Non-compliance with or violation of SAS 70 Type II card
industry auditing standards;
4. TransCard action and/or inaction in violation of contracts
with sponsors, partners, clients, and network associations;
5. TransCard actions and inactions constituting
non-compliance with or violation of ...