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Old 04-16-2010, 01:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Fired against company handbook.

Our state is Arkansas.

My mother just called me to tell me that she got fired.

The company handbook stated that, in order to fire an employee, both general managers had to sign off on it (notice, sign off on it; not just orally say "Go ahead and fire her.") The franchise owner put that in place to avoid frivolous firings, just because one of the managers didn't like it (the franchise owner was a pretty nice guy, albeit filthy stinking rich).

When the assistant manager gave the pink slip to my mother, it was sans one of the GM's signatures.

My mother made $288 a week (that's $8 and hour, 9 hours a day, 4 days a week). She will probably get unemployment for $144 a week (50% of her average salary).

Would my mother have a chance to sue them for the remaining 50% of her check for the next 26 weeks, while she tries to find a different job, since the employer went against its company handbook? If you do the math ($144 per week, times 26 weeks, equals $3,744), it would qualify for small claims court (maximum $5k), so no lawyers necessary.

Would she stand a good chance of winning that small claims settlement?
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Old 04-16-2010, 02:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Realistically speaking, it's doubtful that your mother has a winning case. This is just a guess, but the handbook probably states that it is not a contract and does not create employee rights. Most handbooks have language like that precisely to avoid the argument that your mother wants to make.

However, if the handbook does not have such a disclaimer, and it appears to create contractual obligations, then she may have a winning case. Even under those circumstances, however, I think she'd be fighting an uphill battle.
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:34 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jdmba View Post
Realistically speaking, it's doubtful that your mother has a winning case. This is just a guess, but the handbook probably states that it is not a contract and does not create employee rights. Most handbooks have language like that precisely to avoid the argument that your mother wants to make.

However, if the handbook does not have such a disclaimer, and it appears to create contractual obligations, then she may have a winning case. Even under those circumstances, however, I think she'd be fighting an uphill battle.
In my state (Arkansas), the provisions of a company handbook have been accepted, in case law, as an exception to at-will employment.

The only recourse that employers have is to not put it in the handbook in the first place, which they (obviously) did not do.
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Old 04-20-2010, 10:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by stebbinsd View Post
In my state (Arkansas), the provisions of a company handbook have been accepted, in case law, as an exception to at-will employment.

The only recourse that employers have is to not put it in the handbook in the first place, which they (obviously) did not do.
I'd be keenly interested in reading one such case.
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Last edited by GentleGrace; 04-20-2010 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 04-20-2010, 11:14 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I'd be keenly interested in reading one such case.
How about, my education at the University of Arkansas, which has even more international students than it has intrastate students, so they don't just have to live up to the rest of the nation's standards; they have to live up to the rest of the WORLD'S standards, as well.

In my class on Legal Environment of Business, on our unit on employment law, my instructor (who is also a lawyer; he just teaches part-time), stated that public policy considered company handbooks to be binding contracts.

For verification, you can ask William Greenhaw, of the Greenhaw & Greenhaw law firm in Fayetteville, AR (look it up on yellowpages.com) and ask him to confirm that.
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Old 04-20-2010, 01:48 PM   #6 (permalink)
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How about, my education at the University of Arkansas, which has even more international students than it has intrastate students, so they don't just have to live up to the rest of the nation's standards; they have to live up to the rest of the WORLD'S standards, as well.

In my class on Legal Environment of Business, on our unit on employment law, my instructor (who is also a lawyer; he just teaches part-time), stated that public policy considered company handbooks to be binding contracts.

For verification, you can ask William Greenhaw, of the Greenhaw & Greenhaw law firm in Fayetteville, AR (look it up on yellowpages.com) and ask him to confirm that.
Translation: "I am name dropping because I haven't a clue."
What in the world does the fact you go to school in Arkansas that has international students have to do with citing case law? (And for the record, NOTHING in Arkansas could impressed me after Bill Clinton). Hey--would that be the community college that put you on suspension for not paying the tab? (refer to your OTHER postings about said college and your aspersions on their ethics).
If you have the superior benefit of such a list of legal advisors, why in the world would you find it necessary to come here to ask a question the answer to which you clearly think you already know?
Hey, maybe you could just look up the attorneys whose name you mentioned and ask THEM one of the half dozen questions you've asked here?
Employee Handbooks and 'At Will' Employment - Lawyers.com nothing here about public policy considering employee handbooks to be contracts ..........notice the explanation of situations where it COULD be, but certainly not "public policy" across the board.

Additionally, the fact technical procedures (as in two signatures instead of one) were not followed does NOT mean that in this instance, language exists that would preserve any right to sue if terminated. Just because it is POSSIBLE in rare intances for a company to have wording that says employees can only be fired for good cause, this doesn't mean that an employee keeps their job for a technical error.

Check with one of those important guys you mentioned up there and get back to me about the case law. I have access to Lexis Nexis and can look up any case to which you refer.
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Last edited by GentleGrace; 04-21-2010 at 03:55 AM.
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Old 04-20-2010, 07:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by stebbinsd View Post
In my state (Arkansas), the provisions of a company handbook have been accepted, in case law, as an exception to at-will employment.

The only recourse that employers have is to not put it in the handbook in the first place, which they (obviously) did not do.
If you believe that, then why ask whether your mother has a strong case?

In any event, you've been misinformed:

Quote:
As to the employee handbook, we cannot construe the progressive disciplinary policy as a guarantee that an employee can only be terminated in accordance with the policy, or for a "serious offense," where the same handbook states clearly and unequivocally that the handbook is not a contract, does not confer contractual rights upon employees, and also expressly states that employees are employed at will. St. Edward Mercy Medical Center v. Ellison, 946 S.W.2d 726, 58 Ark.App. 100 (Ark. App., 1997).
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Old 04-21-2010, 06:00 AM   #8 (permalink)
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If you believe that, then why ask whether your mother has a strong case?
Because there's always the chance that something else might be preventing her from suing.
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Old 04-21-2010, 07:59 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Because there's always the chance that something else might be preventing her from suing.
I see.

Unfortunately, a disclaimer in the handbook will be difficult to overcome, as disclaimers are generally effective in Arkansas (see the case law above).
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Old 04-21-2010, 09:07 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Ok, if the handbook also stated that they the employment is at-will, wouldn't it make a difference, stating that you will not be fired (if you won't be fired, that's an exception to at-will employment) without the written consent of both general managers?
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