Employers and employees often look upon the Employer-Employee Handbook as an employment agreement. Given that NJ employment laws generally presume at-will employment relationships, many employers are reluctant to give more rights to an employee than mandated by law. However, such a limited view may expose an employer to even greater liability.
In some cases, the court has held that a provision within an employee handbook was enforceable as an employment contract:
When an employer circulates a manual that, when fairly read, provides that certain rights and/or benefits being granted as part of the employment relationship (including, especially a job security provision), the courts may interpret them in accordance with the reasonable expectations of the employee(s).
However, an employer can avoid creating an implied contract by including a clear and prominent disclaimer. If such a written disclaimer is prominently displayed and within the handbook uses strong, straightforward and absolutely clear language that the handbook does not create any promises and that the employer is free to terminate an employee at will and to change wages and other conditions at will without consulting the employee or receiving their agreement, then the handbook will not be interpreted as constituting an implied contract.
To discuss your NJ employment matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at email@example.com. Please ask us about our video conferencing or telephone consultations if you are unable to come to our office.
By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold Township, Monmouth County, NJ Employment Law Attorney