Dillon v. Champion Jogbra, Inc.

819 A.2d 703 (2002)

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Dillon v. Champion Jogbra, Inc.

Vermont Supreme Court
819 A.2d 703 (2002)

Facts

Champion Jogbra, Inc. (Champion) (defendant) had an employee handbook, which stated on the first page that the handbook’s policies were mere guidelines, that the policies did not constitute an employment contract, and that Champion retained the discretion to terminate employees at will whether with or without cause. However, Champion developed a system of progressive discipline, which was also included in the handbook. The progressive disciplinary policy indicated that it was merely a guideline, from which managers could deviate. When employee Linda Dillion (plaintiff) was terminated without the progressive disciplinary procedure being followed, she sued for wrongful termination. The record before the court consisted of Dillion’s own testimony that she knew of an employee whose termination was consistent with the progressive disciplinary policy and her assertion that a human resources manager had told her that the company could not just fire employees without following the steps in the progressive disciplinary policy. Champion sought summary judgment, which a trial court granted, finding that Champion’s employment handbook was unambiguous and that Champion had not modified Dillon’s at-will employment status by its employee handbook and employment practices. Dillon appealed to the Vermont Supreme Court, arguing that the trial court was wrong to hold that Champion had not modified her at-will status by its handbook and practices and that the issue should have been determined by a jury.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Morse, J.)

Dissent (Amestoy, C.J.)

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