Can an employee force a company to adhere to its own published policies?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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Can an employee force a company to adhere to its own published policies?

Specifically I’m referring to a company’s severance policy which was posted on the company intranet. I was recently involuntarily retired from my former employer, without cause. This has been going on with them for some time and up until now the employees who were let go were receiving they severance package the company had posted on their intranet. However in this particular round of layoffs the company added a wrinkle. They arranged to have another company make a job offer with a start date the day following my termination date. They stated that action on their part excluded me from the severance policy.

Asked on November 13, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here:
1) Policies *can* create enforceable obligations--i.e. contracts--but do not always, or even usually, do so. If there is any language on the website or in an employment manual that all "employment is employment at will" or "polices may be changed at will" or "nothing in this policy creates a contract of employment," etc., then there was no enforceable agreement or contract: the disclaimers are sufficient to prevent the formation of a contractual obligation.
2) Even if there was an enforceable obligation, if the job offer was a legitimate one (i.e. you could have taken it and had the job) and if getting a job offer like that one would have, under the terms of the policy, have meant you were not eligible for severance, then you would not get severance; in this case, under the terms of the  policy, you were not entitled to severance due to the existence of the job offer.

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