Want to retain employee threatening to quit? Think twice before over-promising

Here’s a warning that may save you time and trouble: If you want to keep an employee who has another job offer, be careful what you promise. It may be enforceable if the employee relies on the promise. At the very least, track your efforts to deliver.

Recent case: Loren was promoted to risk manager at Banco do Brasil. At the time of the promotion, he was considering accepting a job at a competing bank. He stayed after his supervisors convinced him to accept the risk manager position by promising to give him the training and support “as might deem desirable in order to perform the new position.”

Loren was eventually fired for what the bank called poor performance.

He sued, alleging among other claims that the bank had reneged on its promise to give Loren more training.

But the bank was ready. It showed the court that Loren turned down at least two opportunities to attend seminars and conferences on risk management. Plus, he never asked for any other training. Therefore, assuming the promise was enforceable, he got what he bargained for. Loren’s case was dismissed. (Lampros v. Banco do Brasil, No. 13-101, 2nd Cir., 2013)

MGR Handbook D

Final note: If you promise an em­­ployee something specific in return for continued employment and he relies on that promise to his detriment, you may be liable. Essentially, you may end up unwittingly creating a quasi-contract for employment for a reasonable period of time.