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Scott v. Merck & Company, Inc. (4th Cir. 2012)

Articles Discussing Case:

Fourth Circuit Reverses Decision Holding Employer's Promise Not to Retaliate Modified At-Will Employment, Rejects Breach of Contract Claim

Littler Mendelson, P.C. • December 17, 2012
On November 27, 2012, in Scott v. Merck & Company, Inc.,1 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed a jury verdict of more than $500,000 in favor of Jennifer Scott, a former Merck & Co., Inc. employee. The appeals court concluded that the trial court erred in permitting Scott to argue that the company's non-retaliation policy included an enforceable promise not to terminate her employment. Specifically, the appeals court ruled that Scott could not reasonably have believed that the non-retaliation policy included a promise of continued employment, given the express at-will disclaimers contained in the employee handbook in which the non-retaliation policy appeared.