Federal Judge Rules That Comcast Handbook Provided Agreement for Wages

United States District Court Judge James Holderman recently ruled in a lawsuit brought against Comcast Corp.  that its employee handbook provided an agreement between the company and its employees for certain wages due under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act.  The company moved to dismiss the claim, but the court ruled against it.  Comcast argued that the handbook contained a disclaimer, stating that the handbook could not be considered a contract of employment.  The court acknowledged the disclaimer, but stated that there was a difference between a contract and an agreement.  An agreement between the two parties, even in the absence of a contract, could provide a basis for a claim for wages.  The class action lawsuit will likely take some time to resolve.  In 1990, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in a lawsuit brought against St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital that a handbook could constitute a contract of employment between a company and an employee under certain circumstances.  If found to be an enforceable contract, the employee may have a claim for breach if the employer fails to follow it.  An employer which utilizes such a handbook can negate the existence of a contract if it employs a sufficiently clear disclaimer prominently displayed in the manual.  Whether a court will find that the disclaimer is sufficient is dependent upon the language used and how the disclaimer is set off from the substantive provisions in the handbook.
Categories: Employment Law