Is company handbook a contract?

I don’t have a formal employment contract.

However, my company’s handbook states that no one will be discharged unless there is cause for discharge. Is that a contract? —Liz L.

Connecticut’s courts have found, under certain circumstances, that an employee handbook can constitute an employment contract.

What is required is that both the employer and the employee have a “meeting of the minds” that a contract has been created. An employee’s belief alone is not sufficient. The handbook language would have to show that the employer intended to be bound as represented in the handbook.

An employer can avoid a contract claim by including a “contract disclaimer” provision in the handbook….that is legalese for a statement that the handbook is not intended to be a contract.

Such contract disclaimer will not be effective unless the disclaimer is clear and unequivocal, is located in the table of contents and in the front of the handbook and is not written in a small font.

Absent a contract disclaimer, such language would likely be considered to be an implied employment contract due to the language used by the employer.

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