Is Your Employee Handbook Consistent With Itself?

on February 10, 2014 by Kara Larsen

Kara Larsen picIn the recent case of Raymours Furniture Company, Inc. v. Sandra Rossi, before the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, the court held that an employee handbook containing conflicting provisions could not be enforced.

Ms. Rossi filed the lawsuit claiming discrimination, retaliation and constructive-discharge. The employer attempted to dismiss the lawsuit and enforce an arbitration agreement that was included as a provision of their employee handbook, as revised. Ms. Rossi alleged, among other things, that the arbitration agreement was unenforceable because the handbook states it is not a contract, the handbook was not binding on Raymours and Ms. Rossi did not knowingly waive her right to sue for discrimination.

It is important to note that the revised employee handbook was given to the Raymours’ employees by using Raymours’ HR Self-Service portal. When Ms. Rossi accessed the portal, there was a check box for her to click acknowledging that she received a copy of the revised handbook.

The court agreed with Ms. Rossi’s arguments stating that “the Handbook here contains provision that are confusing and contradictory.” Additionally, the handbook clearly stated that Raymours had the ability to change the contents of the Handbook without advance notice to the employees, which resulted in the lack of a mutuality obligation.

If you are a New Jersey employer with a handbook that seeks to bind your employees while reserving the right to change the terms of the handbook at any time or to not be bound by its terms, it is time to contact the business lawyers at Slater, Tenaglia, Fritz & Hunt.

The legal team at Slater, Tenaglia, Fritz & Hunt, P.A. consists of experienced attorneys and dedicated staff. We use advanced technology to benefit our clients. We are committed to providing aggressive representation of our clients’ rights while delivering first-class customer service. We can be contacted by phone at (201) 820-6001 in New Jersey or (212) 692-0200 in New York. We can also be found on the Internet, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube. And remember, all initial consultations are complimentary.