In Murray v Alaska Airlines, Inc, Kevin Murray, a quality assurance auditor for the airline, raised safety concerns with the FAA, which led to an airline facility being shut down and Murray's position being eliminated. Murray filed a Whistleblower Protection Act administrative complaint against the airline with the United States Department of Labor. The DOL found that Murray had engaged in protected whistleblowing activity, and that his termination constituted an adverse employment action. However, the DOL found no causal connection between Murray's safety complaints and eventual termination, thus the DOL dismissed the complaint. Murray was notified that he had a right to object to the findings, but if he did not do so in 30 days, the decision would become final and not subject to judicial review.
Murray never filed objections, but later filed suit in a California state court for wrongful termination and retaliation. The airline removed the case to federal court, which dismissed the lawsuit. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit asked the state supreme court to opine as to whether Murray was collaterally estopped from pursing his claims through the courts. The supreme court held that Murray's failure to take the steps to withdraw his administrative complaint, or exercise his statutory right to a formal de novo hearing of record before an administrative law judge, and failure to exercise his statutory right to appeal any adverse findings and decisions rendered the DOL's findings final and nonappealable in subsequent court actions between the same parties.