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Court rejects "implied contract" and upholds firing of maintenance supervisor

Terry MacLennan sued Allegan County after he was fired, allegedly for violating the County's policy on sexual harassment.  He filed a wrongful termination lawsuit alleging that the defendant County violated its Code of Ethics which referenced "principles of fairness" and that it did not conform to its published manual on sexual harassment claims.  He argued that his firing violated an implied "just-cause" contract for firing county employees.

The trial judge granted the County summary disposition and the Court of Appeals affirmed.  It pointed out that the implied contract protections afforded to Michigan employees had been severely curtailed by a "presumption [that] employment relationships are terminable at the will of either party" meaning that workers in this
State "have no property right to continued employment and are not entitled to procedural due process when terminated."  Further, since MacLennan signed an application form and acknowledgement form that acknowledged his "at will" status at the initiation of his employment, he could not argue that he had any implied contractual rights related to his employer's manuals or codes of operation.

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