California Court of Appeal Enforces Employment at Will

After the California Supreme Court's 2006 decision in Dore v. Arnold Worldwide, discussed here, it is hard to dispute a provision that provides for termination at will, even if the term "at will" is not expressly used.

The Court of Appeal in Bernard v. State Farm, opinion here, held this language provided for employment at will:

“III A. You or State Farm have the right to terminate this Agreement by written notice delivered to the other or mailed to the other’s last known address.
“III B. In the event we terminate this Agreement, you are entitled upon request to a review in accordance with the termination review procedures approved by the Board of Directors of the Companies, as amended from time to time.”

The court rejected the plaintiff's argument the agreement was "ambiguous," thereby allowing the admission of "parol" evidence to explain the contractual term. The court also rejected the notion that the review of termination provision limited State Farm's power to terminate the contract.

In an unpublished portion of the decision, the court rejected the argument that the employer's alleged misrepresentations about the circumstances that led to termination could give rise to a fraud claim. Hunter v. Up-Right remains good law on this point.

No wonder I don't see many implied contract claims anymore.