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)
- Court eliminates one strategy for ending class-action litigation
- Use 'general public' test to determine whether employee is disabled under the ADA
- Don't raise performance bar solely on workers taking FMLA
- Don't marginalize harassing behavior--you could trigger constructive discharge suit
- Remind managers: FMLA carries personal liability risk