The court reiterated the factors that have been used in the past to distinguish a simple employee manual from a contract including:
- The employer retained the right to modify unilaterally the manual’s terms
- The manual provided that it was for “guidance” as to the employer’s policies
- There had been no negotiations between the employer and the employee regarding the terms of the manual
- The manual stated no term of employment
- The employer called no special attention to the manual
- The employee did not sign or manifest his assent to the manual or acknowledge that he understood its terms.
In this case, the court found that the first four factors weighed in favor of the manual being simply a guide and not a contract. However, the court eventually decided that the manual operated as a contract based on the fact that special attention was called to the manual, a non-competition clause was contained in the manual, and that the employee testified that he had understood himself to be bound by the manual’s terms. Viewing all this evidence in a light most favorable to the employee, the court found that it would not be unreasonable for the employee to regard the manual as a binding commitment.
To ensure that your employee manual is in compliance with this decision, you are urged to contact an employment law attorney.