There are many facets to employment law in New Jersey. Perhaps the many changes that occur in the employment and contract law world are what keeps lawyer Ty Hyderally interested in the field. And perhaps this is why he has employment law practices in both New York and New Jersey areas. One such case of interest that was heard before the New Jersey Supreme Court is Anthony Nicosia vs. Wakefern Food Corporation.
The debate has been ongoing for many years as to whether or not an employee handbook constitutes a contractual agreement between an employee and a company. There are cases, such as this one, in which there is an implied contract written within the employee manual that is distributed to their employees.
Nicosia was a lower level shift supervisor who was fired to mishandling some of the company’s merchandise. He denied that the company had the right to let him go without cause, since he denied the allegations as well. The manual he received at the time of his employment clearly set forth how terminations were to be handled. He maintained that it was an implied contract and termination without cause was not allowed.
On the other hand, the Wakefern Food Corporation held to the fact that Nicosia was an “at-will” employee. This meant that they could fire him at anytime with no warning and with or without a single reason. They refuted the wrongful termination accusation by saying that the evidence they had against Nicosia was grounds for an immediate dismissal.
Nicosia continued to maintain that the proper steps that were drawn out in the employee handbook were not followed properly at his termination. He stated that the 11 page document which laid out the details of termination was not followed in the proceedings. He also asserted that the 160 page manual that was given him upon hiring constitutes an implied employee contract and when Wakefern terminated him without going through the proper proceedings they breached this contract.
Wakefern agreed that the progressive discipline policy was intact during the time that Nicosia was terminated, however, they stated that there were certain actions that required immediate termination and he was allegedly involved in them. They also argued that the manual was not distributed to most and so it could not constitute an implied contract.
In this case the courts ruled in favor of the employee and stated that the employee manual did indeed serve as an implied contract between the employee and the company.