October 25, 2017
Authored by: Bill Wortel and Christy Phanthavong
This article is part three in a six-part series. The purpose of this series is to provide tips and identify potential pitfalls associated with the drafting of an employee handbook.
While an employee handbook serves many functions, its primary purpose from a legal standpoint is to reduce potential liability with respect to claims brought by current and former employees. Unfortunately, many employers are unwilling to commit the time and bear the expense of implementing an employee handbook (or updating an existing handbook) until after they have been sued and the absence (or poor draftsmanship) of a particular written policy has crippled their defense to an employment claim. Tip #3 explains how including certain language in an employee handbook may help an employer to defend breach of contract claims.
Tip #3: Avoiding Breach of Contract Claims
It is not difficult to form a common law contract. Typically, all that is needed is an offer, an acceptance, and consideration. In most jurisdictions, an employee’s acceptance of employment or continued employment following receipt of an employee handbook can satisfy both the acceptance and the consideration elements of contract formation. This leaves only the offer prong to be satisfied, and employees and the plaintiffs’