Monday, June 13, 2016

An ineffective employment agreement and post-termination commissions.

Practice point:  The Appellate Division affirmed dismissal, finding that plaintiff's breach of contract claim, which alleged that the corporate defendant breached the parties' employment agreement by failing to pay her certain compensation and benefits upon the termination of her employment in 2013, was correctly dismissed. The employment agreement expired in December 2007, and it unambiguously provided that any extension of the agreement needed to be in writing. Because there was no writing extending the agreement, her breach of contract claim fails as a matter of law.

Plaintiff's unjust enrichment claim seeking post-termination commissions fails because, on the expiration of her employment agreement, plaintiff became an at-will employee, and at-will employees are not entitled to post-termination commissions.

Plaintiff's claims for promissory estoppel, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation fail, since, in the absence of a signed employment agreement, she could not have reasonably relied upon defendants' alleged oral representations regarding the terms of her employment.

Student note:  The Appellate Division rejected plaintiff's assertion that the motion court should have allowed her to conduct further discovery under CPLR 3211(d) so that she could obtain documents confirming that her employment was renewed after the expiration of her employment agreement. As any renewal had to be in writing, and plaintiff alleged in her complaint that the parties did not execute any further written amendments to the employment terms after the agreement expired, there was no basis for further discovery.

Case:  Holahan v. 488 Performance Group, Inc., NY Slip Op 04311 (1st Dep't June 2, 2016)

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue:  Vacatur of an arbitration award pursuant to CPLR 7511.