Grimmett v. University of Alaska

[EMPLOYMENT LAW]

In Grimmett v. University of Alaska,[1] the supreme court held that an employer generally may not avoid a for-cause employee’s due process protections at termination through use of a nonretention clause.[2] In 2008, two employees of the University of Alaska lost their employment due to performance concerns.[3] Despite the for-cause language in their employment contracts, both employees were denied termination-for-cause hearings based upon the nonretention clause in their contracts.[4] On appeal, the University of Alaska argued that the nonretention clause allowed the University to terminate non-tenured employees without a showing of cause.[5] The supreme court affirmed the lower court’s decision, reasoning that using nonretention as a pretext for performance related termination violates an employee’s expectation of due process under a for-cause contract.[6] The court further reasoned that under the University’s regulations, nonretention was only available when market forces, lack of funds, reorganization or other nonperformance issues called for the discontinuation of employment.[7] Affirming the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that an employer generally may not avoid a for-cause employee’s due process protections by use of a nonretention clause in terminating employment.[8]

 



[1] 303 P.3d 482 (Alaska 2013).

[2] Id. at 490.

[3] Id. at 484–86.

[4] Id. at 485, 487.

[5] Id. at 486.

[6] Id. at 490.

[7] Id. at 489.

[8] Id. at 490.

Grimmett v. University of Alaska

[EMPLOYMENT LAW]

In Grimmett v. University of Alaska,[1] the supreme court held that an employer generally may not avoid a for-cause employee’s due process protections at termination through use of a nonretention clause.[2] In 2008, two employees of the University of Alaska lost their employment due to performance concerns.[3] Despite the for-cause language in their employment contracts, both employees were denied termination-for-cause hearings based upon the nonretention clause in their contracts.[4] On appeal, the University of Alaska argued that the nonretention clause allowed the University to terminate non-tenured employees without a showing of cause.[5] The supreme court affirmed the lower court’s decision, reasoning that using nonretention as a pretext for performance related termination violates an employee’s expectation of due process under a for-cause contract.[6] The court further reasoned that under the University’s regulations, nonretention was only available when market forces, lack of funds, reorganization or other nonperformance issues called for the discontinuation of employment.[7] Affirming the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that an employer generally may not avoid a for-cause employee’s due process protections by use of a nonretention clause in terminating employment.[8]

 



[1] 303 P.3d 482 (Alaska 2013).

[2] Id. at 490.

[3] Id. at 484–86.

[4] Id. at 485, 487.

[5] Id. at 486.

[6] Id. at 490.

[7] Id. at 489.

[8] Id. at 490.