The employee believed there was an implied-in-fact promise to discharge for good cause only. Based on “Termination Guidelines” that set out express grounds for discharge and other oral promises and personnel policies, employee alleged that he reasonably believed he would not be discharged except for good cause.
There is sufficient evidence of intent to limit the employer’s right to discharge arbitrarily (course of conduct and termination guidelines) to overcome the presumption of at-will employment and to find an implied-in-fact contract.
As far as the Statute of Frauds is concerned, even if the promise “could” be performed within one year, it is sufficient to not require a writing. As such, since most employment promises could be performed within one year because the relationship could end by firing, quitting, etc., the S of F is generally not a problem in at-will employment situations.
Employee alleges an oral contract, but says his reasonable expectation arises through a course of conduct and various oral representations (really an implied-in-fat contract).
The presumption of at-will employment can be overcome by evidence to the contrary (even in the absence of a specified term), such as an agreement to require termination be based on “good cause”.
The contract here is implied and not express because the language was too indefinite and we are not sure if the ones who made the statements had the authority to do so and bind the employer.
Look to the totality of the circumstances to find the implied promise. The guidelines, the conduct (how other employees were treated), the non-competition and confidentiality agreements (giving something up for something in return).
On remand, employee must characterize the agreement as indefinite (can be terminated for cause). A K for life can only be terminated if there is a breach, not for cause.
What is good cause? Simpson applies an objective standard that reduces the good cause standard to a good faith standard.
The employee generally has the burden of proof, although the employer does in collective bargaining and civil service cases.
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