Offer letters causes employment dispute

Many employees in Ohio and across the nation have received offer letters from prospective employers. These letters provide successful candidates with details like the title of the job offered to them, base salary, the date a job starts and ends, and an explanation of contingencies to employment like drug testing and background checks.

A string of lawsuits alleging violations of employment law demonstrates that employers should exercise a bit of caution when they write these letters so that they avoid creating an unintentional contract.

Breach of contract?

In one case, a man filed a breach of contract lawsuit after he says he received an employment “guarantee” for five years in an offer letter. The letter specified that the company could terminate the man’s employment at any time and they did so after a year. A judge ruled in favor of the employer in this case and gave the opinion that the wording of the offer letter did not constitute a contract.

HR Departments should not create guarantees

In 2017, a federal judge allowed an employee to move forward with a lawsuit that alleged violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act. The judge decided that a jury should hear details of the woman’s firing after a dispute between her and her employer took place over the amount of leave that was available to her. The confusion was the result of conflicting information in the company’s employee handbook.

In one section, the handbook states employees are to receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under FMLA policy. Another section of the handbook announced the policy as eight weeks of paid maternity leave as well as an additional four weeks of unpaid leave.

The employee filing the suit was unaware that the leave periods were to run concurrently. The employer held her position for 12 weeks but terminated her employment when she did not return to work.

The employment laws of Ohio set forth the guidelines that must be followed by both employers and employees in the state. When a dispute takes place, the opposing parties might choose arbitration or mediation to solve the process. Other alternatives include a hearing before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the civil court system. Individuals or companies with questions regarding employment law disputes may find the answers they need by consulting with an attorney.