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Be prepared to prove employees’ at-will status

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Does your handbook clearly spell out that employees are truly at-will employees? If not, be sure to add language doing so the next time you update your handbook.

Recent case: Angela sued Smith Barney, claiming she worked under an employment contract. Smith Barney said she was at-will and subject to an arbitration agreement.

But neither side presented any evidence to the court backing up its position. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to trial and told the judge to have the parties bring in evidence supporting both of their claims. An affidavit from the company lawyer stating that Angela was at-will wasn’t good enough. (McAllister v. Smith Barney, et al., No. 11-4696, 2nd Cir., 2012)

Final note: Include an at-will clause in the handbook and have employees sign off that they understand their status.

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