Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ferrera v. A. C. Nielsen case brief

Ferrera v. A. C. Nielsen case brief summary
799 P.2d 458 (1990)

Plaintiff employee appealed the order from the District Court of Boulder County (Colorado), which entered summary judgment in favor of defendant employer on the employee's claim that she was wrongfully discharged from employment.

After almost seven years of employment, the employer fired an employee after concluding that she had falsified her time card for a second time. The employee brought an action for wrongful discharge from employment under implied contract and promissory estoppel theories based on the employee handbook.

On the employer's motion, the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the employer. The court held that the handbook could not constitute a contract because it contained a disclaimer. In a motion to reconsider, the trial court reviewed a copy of an earlier issued handbook but affirmed its entry of summary judgment.


  • On appeal, the court held that the error, if any, that resulted from the trial court's earlier entry of judgment was harmless under Colo. R. Civ. P. 61 because the employee had an adequate opportunity to show why judgment should not have been entered. 
  • The court further concluded that the employer, by implication, reserved the right to modify its handbook, a right that was exercised by later issuing a revised handbook and that nothing in the later handbook constituted a contract that limited the employer's right to discharge employees.

The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court that held that the record established as a matter of law that the employer made no promise in its handbook upon which an employee could base an implied contract or promissory estoppel claim.

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