ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Thursday, March 14, 2019

An employer isn't bound by a policy unless the employee is aware of and relies upon the policy (e.g., reads the handbook!)

A recent case out of Illinois, Brown-Wright v. East St. Louis School District 189, NO. 5-18-0311 (behind paywall), finds that in order for an employee policy to operate as a binding contract, the employee has to have read the policy.

In the case, the plaintiff was suing based on an alleged violation of the sick leave payout policy. The plaintiff, however, did not find out about the policy her case was relying upon interpreting until after her employment ended. Therefore, it was not the case that she learned of the policy and continued to work as acceptance of and consideration for that policy. Because the plaintiff did not read the policy before terminating employment, she could not rely upon it now. 

This is a lesson to all of us to read those policies our employers send around.

Commentary, Government Contracting, Labor Contracts, Recent Cases, Teaching, True Contracts | Permalink


Can't read the opinion, but the result seems wrong. Employer changed the agreement, employee didn't read it, and court finds that employer (!) isn't bound? Is that right?

Posted by: Frank Snyder | Mar 15, 2019 9:53:00 AM

Basically -- isn't bound as to that employee, because the employee never assented to the policy because that employee never read it. It's harsh to the employee.

Posted by: Stacey | Mar 23, 2019 8:50:34 AM

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