July 23, 2014

Illinois Federal Court Finds Employee Handbook Provision May Constitute an Agreement

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently held that an employee handbook provision may constitute an enforceable agreement under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (IWPCA), even if it does not create an enforceable contract between the employer and employee.

In Wharton v. Comcast Corp., N.D. Ill., No. 12-cv-1157 (Dec. 6, 2012), the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant violated the IWCPA by failing to pay them for pre-shift work, post-shift work, and work during meal breaks, in addition to certain overtime wages. The IWCPA provides that employers are required to pay every employee "at least semi-monthly...all wages earned during the semi-monthly period." "Wages" are defined as "any compensation owed an employee by an employer pursuant to an employment contract or agreement between the 2 parties..."

Despite a disclaimer included in the defendant's handbook precluding the creation of an employment contract, the court found that its provisions covering wages and overtime compensation were sufficient to create an agreement, such that a violation of the handbook's provisions would constitute a violation of the IWCPA. The court analyzed the distinction between "contract" and "agreement," noting that the Restatement (Second) of Contracts defines agreement as "a manifestation of mutual assent on the part of two or more persons." Under Illinois law, an agreement requires only "mutual assent to terms," which the court found between the parties.

Employers are encouraged to review their policies and handbooks in light of Judge Holderman's decision. A full text of the decision can be found here.


About the Author

Kaitlyn Jakubowski, Labor and Employment Attorney, Barnes Thornburg, Law firm

Kaitlyn N. Jakubowski is an associate in the Chicago office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP and a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Law Department. 


Boost: AJAX core statistics

Legal Disclaimer

You are responsible for reading, understanding and agreeing to the National Law Review's (NLR’s) and the National Law Forum LLC's  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy before using the National Law Review website. The National Law Review is a free to use, no-log in database of legal and business articles. The content and links on are intended for general information purposes only. Any legal analysis, legislative updates or other content and links should not be construed as legal or professional advice or a substitute for such advice. No attorney-client or confidential relationship is formed by the transmission of information between you and the National Law Review website or any of the law firms, attorneys or other professionals or organizations who include content on the National Law Review website. If you require legal or professional advice, kindly contact an attorney or other suitable professional advisor.  

Some states have laws and ethical rules regarding solicitation and advertisement practices by attorneys and/or other professionals. The National Law Review is not a law firm nor is  intended to be  a referral service for attorneys and/or other professionals. The NLR does not wish, nor does it intend, to solicit the business of anyone or to refer anyone to an attorney or other professional.  NLR does not answer legal questions nor will we refer you to an attorney or other professional if you request such information from us. 

Under certain state laws the following statements may be required on this website and we have included them in order to be in full compliance with these rules. The choice of a lawyer or other professional is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. Attorney Advertising Notice: Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Statement in compliance with Texas Rules of Professional Conduct. Unless otherwise noted, attorneys are not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, nor can NLR attest to the accuracy of any notation of Legal Specialization or other Professional Credentials.

The National Law Review - National Law Forum LLC 4700 Gilbert Ave. Suite 47 #230 Western Springs, IL 60558  Telephone  (708) 357-3317 If you would ike to contact us via email please click here.