Don’t promise leave if worker isn’t actually eligible — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Don’t promise leave if worker isn’t actually eligible

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Employers that promise leave to employees who aren’t really entitled to it may be liable under state law if the employee relies on that promise to her detriment.

Recent case: When Kimberly Lonergan began working for Cargo Tech, she was already pregnant. She said she was promised benefits when she interviewed for the job.

But once she started, she learned she wasn’t eligible after all. However, Cargo Tech told her she could take 12 unpaid weeks when her baby was born. Plus, the company confirmed she would be reinstated after she took leave. But Lonergan was terminated the day she returned to work.

She sued, alleging that she had relied on the leave and return promises made by the company.

The court said the case should go to trial, because when an employee—to her detriment—relies on an employer’s promise, that promise may create an enforceable contract. (Lonergan v. Cargo Tech, No. 08-C-7458, ND IL, 2009)

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