Legal Risk and Opportunity in Employment
November 2, 2009
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After Pat had been on the job at Newcorp for approximately 3 months Pat's boss decided that thier employment arrangement was not working out, and that Pat's employment at NewCorp was being terminated with 30 days severance pay. Pat was taken with a bit of surprise as he had no prior indication of any type of performance problems with regard to his employment at Newcorp. Newcorp had an employee manual that was provided to Pat when he accepted the job at Newcorp. In this manual there was an outlined process for dealing with unsatisfactory employee's. The process that was outlined in the manual stated that if the job performance of any employees was unsatisfactory that the employee would be notified of the situation, and further that the employee would be placed on a corrective action plan. The employee would then have a certain amount of time to improve thier work performance or be subject to possible termination. In the case of Pat Gray the outlined process never took place.
Pat acknowledged when he began his employment at Newcorp, that Newcorp observed an employment at will policy with regard to both the employment and discharge of it's employee's, but Pat also felt that the above provision limited Newcorp's ability to fire him at will, as Pat was of the understanding that he had an implied employment contract with Newcorp. Pat however did notice that senior management within the company was seemingly unfriendly to him after he had been vocal at a local school board meeting, and Pat believed that this contributed to Newcorp's decision to terminate his employment.
Courts have often ruled that there is an implied existence of a contract due to factors such as the employer making promises to an employee, and the employers own policies and procedures. "When an employer and an employee enter into a formal agreement be it written or verbal specifying the terms of an employment relationship they have an express employment contract". (U.S. Chamber of Commerce,2008) "Likewise an implied employment contract is not an agreement that is always knowingly entered into, but occurs when the courts side with a fired employee that the employer made some sort of promise to the employee and then broke the promise." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2008). "The promises that usually underlie implied employment contracts are statements that are made in the employee handbook, in orientation materials, or orally." (U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 2008).
There is then the situation of the comments made by Pat at the local school board meeting. Pat believes that this may have at least in part led to his employment termination at Newcorp. If this what occurred with regard to Pat's termination then there possibly is a case for undisclosed principal, which occurs when a person or agent acts without disclosure of the nature of his agency or the name of his principal, and when such agent is liable to a third party. If Newcorp had concerns or issues with the statements made by...