Jaspan Schlesinger Defeats Suit by Client’s Former Employee
Date: February 7th, 2012
Location:Garden City, New York
On February 7, 2012, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Second Department, affirmed the dismissal of all claims brought by a former salesman of the Firm’s client, a major manufacturer of corrugated containers. The employee alleged that he was denied the opportunity to service certain client accounts during his employment and that the company breached the terms of his employment by failing to provide him with vacation pay during the twenty years he worked for the company.
The company terminated the employee in 2008. The employee did not challenge his discharge. Instead, he commenced a lawsuit claiming that the company breached an agreement it made with him 20 years earlier when he was first hired, providing that upon the retirement of his father, who also a salesman for the company, he would succeed to his father’s accounts. He also alleged, relying on the company’s Employee Handbook, that the company owed him for unpaid vacation time.
Both the employee and the company moved for summary judgment on his claims. The Supreme Court denied the employee’s motion and granted the company summary judgment dismissing all of the employee’s claims except as to the issue of whether he was owed vacation pay.
The employee then appealed the dismissal of his claims to the Appellate Division and the company cross-appealed with respect to the lower court’s failure to dismiss the claim for vacation pay. On appeal, Jaspan Schlesinger LLP successfully argued that the company was not prohibited from transferring the father's accounts during his employment with the company and that the company had, in fact, turned over all the accounts the employee was entitled to at the time his father retired. The firm also successfully argued that the employee was not entitled to vacation pay, with the appellate court holding that routinely issued employee handbooks should not lightly be converted into binding employment agreements, especially when there exists disclaiming language to that effect in the handbook.
Jaspan Schlesinger LLP Partner Stanley A. Camhi and Associate Daniel E. Shapiro represented the company in the Supreme Court and on the appeal to the Appellate Division.