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Wednesday
Nov082000

Don't Commit to More Than You Bargained for When Quoting Wages or Salaries

As you have heard me mention before, courts will enforce the employment at will doctrine (either the employee or the employer can terminate the relationship at any time for any reason or no reason at all) but they try to find ways to rule in favor of the employee. One of those ways is to find an implied contract between the employee and the employer that overrides the employment at will doctrine.

Some courts have held that quoting wages or salary by referring to a fixed term is an implied agreement to hire the employee for that term. For example, stating that a job pays $25,000 a year can be an implied promise to hire the employee for one year. The employee can't be terminated during that period of time unless there is "just cause." Even quoting a monthly figure could be interpreted to mean that the employee cannot be terminated without one month's notice.

DON'T: Don't quote wages or salaries in annual or monthly figures.

DO: Do quote wages and salaries in hourly or weekly amounts.

DO: Do let employees do their own math. Let them figure out that $12 an hour or $480 a week works out to almost $25,000 a year.

DO: Do send a confirming letter to all new employees letting them know how excited you are that they are joining your team and stating their compensation by reference to hourly or weekly figures.

DO: Do send a similar confirming letter quoting hourly or weekly compensation to all employees when they are promoted.

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