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Employee of Mecosta County Medical Center has no legitimate expectation of "just cause" employment status

The Mecosta County Medical Center handbook contains an "Employee Fair Treatment Program" and a progressive discipline policy.  Under Michigan law, all employees are presumed to be "at will," meaning they may be fired at any time, without just cause.  A narrow exception remains from past decades, however, in situations where the employer has expressly created a legitimate expectation of "just cause" employment, in order to create a better work environment and to induce in employees a vested interest in their jobs.

Sharon Woofter ws fired by the Medical Center after she was (according to her) falsely accused of improperly accessing confidential medical records.  She claimed that if she could show that the allegation against her was false, she could also sue for wrongful termination because the Medical Center violated its own policy requiring just cause for terminating an employee. 

Even though the employee handbook expressly stated that "[n]o employee will be terminated without proper cause or reason and not until management has made a careful review of the facts"... the Court of Appeals panel, including Christopher M. Murray, one of the staunchest anti-employee, pro-insurance Republican judges on the court, concluded that Woofter had no "legitimate expectation" of just cause employment becasue the booklet also stated that "the contents of this booklet [do not] establish [a] contract" between employer and employees.

Almost two decades ago, the high court eviscerated most of Michigan employees' job rights, but it did leave a narrow exception where employers explicitly promised "just cause" termination or discipline.  This decision and others like it wipe out what few "legitimate expectations" to fair treatment that Michigan workers had left.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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