CHICAGO (CN) – Marshall Field’s breached an employee contract by firing a worker for drawing stick figures of a female co-worker being electrocuted, boiled, guillotined, run over by a train, shot out of a cannon and tied to a rocket, an Illinois appeals court ruled.
When the co-worker’s son brought the pictures to the store’s attention, Marshall Field’s suspended the artist, Gary Ross, and told him to see a psychologist.
After two visits, Ross says the psychologist told him that he suffered from depression, but was otherwise “not a threatening individual.”
Marshall Field’s fired him, anyway, prompting Ross to dig out his 1968 employee handbook. He claimed the handbook constitutes a contract and states that he can only be fired through the “use of progressive discipline,” and not at-will.
The appellate court held that disclaimers in revised handbooks did not modify the contract or convert the plaintiff to an at-will employee. See ruling.