From The Workplace Report with Ancel Glink: Lessons Learned from School District on At-Will Employment.
The Illinois Appellate court recently gave employers a refresher course in the pros and cons of maintaining at-will status of employees. In this case, when an assistant principal's employment was not renewed at the end of the school term, he sued for retaliatory discharge. Although he was awarded a $1 million jury verdict, the appellate court reversed the trial court finding that a retaliatory discharge claim can only be brought by at-will employees. The appellate court determined that because the employee was retained for a specific period of time, there was an employment "agreement" between the employee and the school district. Taylor v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, 2014 Ill. App. (1st) 123744.
While the outcome was favorable to the district under these facts, the finding that an employment "agreement" existed because an employee was hired for a particular term could be problematic in other circumstances.