Rehor v. Case Western Reserve University

331 N.E.2d 416 (1975)

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Rehor v. Case Western Reserve University

Ohio Supreme Court
331 N.E.2d 416 (1975)

Facts

Charles Rehor (plaintiff) began teaching English and journalism at Cleveland College in 1929. Cleveland College eventually became a part of Western Reserve University (Western Reserve), which later merged with the Case Institute of Technology in 1967 to become Case Western Reserve University (Case Western) (defendant). Rehor attained tenure at Western Reserve prior to the merger. The retirement age at Western Reserve for tenured professors was 70. After the merger, Case Western attempted to create a uniform set of policies for tenure and retirement, because the two schools that merged had different policies for retirement. Under the new retirement policy, the retirement age was set at 68; however, faculty could apply for reappointments after that. Case Western communicated the retirement policy to faculty in 1970. Starting in 1969, Rehor signed three consecutive one-year reappointment forms, none of which mentioned a retirement age or Rehor’s retirement. However, Rehor was advised in writing that the date of his retirement would be June 30, 1973. Rehor, in 1972, at the age of 68, applied to the appropriate committee for continued employment beyond the age of 68, but his request was denied. Rehor filed suit, seeking an order declaring that he was entitled to continue teaching until the age of 70. Rehor alleged that as a tenured professor and pursuant to his employment contract, he could not be terminated without cause. A trial court determined that Rehor’s contract did not prevent Case Western from amending its retirement policy. A court of appeals reversed. Case Western appealed the ruling, arguing that it had the right to set a retirement age by unilaterally adopting a new policy.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Corrigan, J.)

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