An Employer Wins – But Barely

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April Dodge viewed her employer’s power point presentation explaining her new commission structure. She then successfully sold her employer’s product. When the commissions she expected were absent, she sued her employer, CDW Government, Inc., claiming a breach of contract, based upon the power point presentation. While she convinced the lower court to rule in her favor, the employer appealed and just recently won a reversal. Dodge v. CDW Government, Inc. NO. 10-1406 The court’s opinion is music to a management lawyer’s ears – until the ending, which rings a cautionary note.

The court ruled that even though the employer provided a power point demonstration citing the new commission structure, the power point “did not amount to an offer to enter into a contract, but the announcement of a nonbinding intention.” That sounds like good news for the employer.

However, even though the court ruled that no contract was created – citing the company’s handbook’s ‘this is not a contract’ disclaimer — the court seemingly went out of its way to chide the employer and provide cautionary advice. The opinion notes that the employer’s “failure to make good on its intention may hamper its efforts to attract and motivate sales managers.” More significantly, the court noted that the power point may give rise to a claim based on quantum meruit.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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