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Posts Tagged ‘employee handbook’

How Can An Employer Limit Its Litigation Risk?

Posted by Eric Parzianello on December 3, 2014

An employee’s post-termination lawsuit can be very costly for an employer regardless of whether the claims have any merit.  A complaint alleging discrimination based on sexual harassment or age, race or gender discrimination can result in significant litigation and/or settlement cost.  One way for an employer to limit the risk of such claims is to shorten the time by which an employee must file any suit against the employer.

In the case of Posselius v. Springer Pub. Co., Inc., the plaintiff began working for her employer in 2000. In 2005, she received a revised employee handbook and signed a form acknowledging her receipt of the book.  That form in part stated:

“I agree that in consideration for my employment or continued employment that any claim or lawsuit arising out of my employment with, or my application for employment with, the Company or any of its principals or subsidiaries must be filed no more than six (6) months after the day of the employment action that is the subject of the claim or lawsuit. While I understand that the statute of limitations for claims arising out of an employment action may be longer than six (6) months, I agree to be bound by the six (6) month period of limitations set forth herein, and I WAIVE ANY STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS TO THE CONTRARY.”

The plaintiff was terminated in July of 2008 and she filed suit a year later in July of 2009 for gender discrimination. The employer argued that the plaintiff’s action was barred by the six-month contractual limitations period in the signed acknowledgment.  The Michigan Court of Appeals agreed and dismissed the lawsuit.  It found that “because the acknowledgement form created an enforceable agreement and was not ambiguous, plaintiff was bound by the provision requiring claims to be brought within six months.”

This is one of many ways an employer can reduce the likelihood of litigation.  A regular review by an employer of its policies and procedures is highly recommended.

Eric Parzianello


Posted in Business Litigation, General Employment Law | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »