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Weiner v. McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Court of Appeals of New York
443 N.E.2d 441 (1982)


Facts

Walton Lewis Weiner (plaintiff) was employed by Prentice-Hall, a publishing company. In 1969, McGraw-Hill, Inc. (McGraw) (defendant), another publishing company, approached Weiner to induce him to work for McGraw. McGraw assured Weiner that he would have job security because McGraw only terminated its employees for just cause. Weiner filled out and submitted a McGraw form application. The application specified that employment would be subject to McGraw’s personnel handbook. The handbook stated that employees would only be dismissed for just cause. Weiner began working for McGraw, forfeiting accrued fringe benefits and promised salary increases at Prentice-Hall. Over the next eight years, Weiner received a promotion and pay raises, and routinely rejected offers of employment elsewhere. During this period, Weiner was informed that he could only terminate his subordinates for just cause. In February 1977, Weiner’s employment was terminated for “lack of application.” Weiner sued for wrongful termination. The trial court denied McGraw’s motion to dismiss. The Appellate Division reversed, on grounds that Weiner’s employment had been at will. Weiner appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fuchsberg, J.)

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