If you use employment contracts, don’t be tempted to draft the agreement yourself. Doing so may mean you’ll end up with terms that go beyond what you meant.
Contract law is tricky, and an experienced attorney can best guide you in creating a contract that is clear, unambiguous and complies with Michigan law. In the following case, the employer got the contract language right because the language allowed the employer some flexibility.
Recent case: Richard Newsum signed an employment contract with Precision Plastic Sheet Company for a three-year stint as vice president of business development. The contract specified that Newsum could be terminated “for just cause.” It also stated that if the company went out of business, it would “use its best efforts” to place Newsum with one of its other companies in a position with “substantially the same duties and responsibilities.…”
The company did go out of business, and it offered Newsum a job at a different location. Newsum rejected the offer, arguing, for one, that he would have to move and could no longer work from home. He said the contract language meant he would get a job that had all the same conditions as his prior one.
The Court of Appeals of Michigan rejected his contract interpretation. It said that substantial does not mean identical, and that the job was similar enough. It dismissed his lawsuit. (Newsum v. Wirtz, et al., No. 277583, Court of Appeals of Michigan, 2008)
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