Is An Employee Handbook Legally Enforceable?

NY Employee Handbook Law does not limit the reasons for which an employer may fire a worker in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx or Staten Island.  Employment in New York is “At-Will”. This means an employee can be fired at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all, except that nobody’s job can be terminated for a qualifying discriminatory reason.

Worker rights derived from a company’s Employee Handbook were examined in the matter of Kunda v. Caremark PhC LLC, 14-CV-6125 (Aug. 13, 2015), heard in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, covering Brooklyn & Queens counties.

The employer was Caremark, more commonly known by its trade name CVS Caremark pharmacy. The employee, Kunda, had worked for CVS pharmacy for eight years. During that time, the employee received positive job performance reviews.

A CVS supervisor terminated the employee after an unflattering interaction he had with a co-worker.

Kunda pointed out that CVS’s NY Employee Handbook Law compliance policies classified numerous employee actions as unacceptable to management. However, that list did not include unpleasant co-worker interactions as an offense for which an employee could be fired.

Nevertheless, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bianco found CVS Caremark had the right to terminate Kunda’s employment at will.  NY employee handbook law did not imply a contract between the employer and the employee.  NY employee handbook law does not infringe on an employer’s right to terminate an employee at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all (except for a discriminatory reason).

The judge noted CVS’ Employee Handbook lawyer had included a legal “disclaimer” that the book was a guideline only, and did not create an employment contract nor otherwise restrict the employer’s rights.

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Michael Hurwitz, Esq. is the managing member of The Hurwitz Law Firm, PC, and is a personal injury attorney representing accident victims in Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Manhattan and throughout the New York City region.