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Special work arrangement? Ensure worker’s at-will status

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Occasionally, you may decide to create alternative work arrangements based on written agreements. How you do that is crucial to retaining at-will status.

Recent case: Merari Gonzalez worked in the sonogram section at Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas while attending community college. The hospital agreed to pay her tuition in a sonogram certificate program in exchange for her promise to work for two years at the hospital once she graduated. The written agreement specified that the relationship was still at-will.

Gonzalez was terminated for violating patient privacy. She sued, alleging she had a two-year employment agreement.

The court said she did not, given that the contract specifically re­­tained at-will status. (Gonzalez v. Metho­­dist Charlton Medical Center, No. 10-11-00257, Court of Appeals of Texas, 2011)

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