Make sure your employee handbook includes a disclaimer specifying that the handbook is not a contract. Then have employees sign that disclaimer, acknowledging that they’ve read it. That way, you won’t accidentally create an employment contract.
Recent case: Helen McCauley worked for SK Hand Tool Co. in the HR department. When she took the job, she signed a statement acknowledging that she was an at-will employee and that the handbook wasn’t an employment contract.
After she was terminated in a reduction in force, she sued, alleging among other things that her supervisor interfered with her employment contract by terminating her.
The court tossed out the case, explaining that handbooks that include a contract disclaimer signed by the employee are not employment contracts. (McCauley v. SK Hand Tool Company, No. 3:09-CV-883, ND OH, 2010)
- Must you rehire a disabled former employee?
- Just got served with court papers? It's OK to impose already-Planned discipline
- Take extra anti-harassment steps with young staff
- Pay for holiday when it's normally an off day?
- Retaliation: Don't sweat link between complaint and firing, if you would have fired anyway