I was going to save this post for the Yankees run into the World Series, but with the Yankees losing last night, it seems quite possible that they might not get there this year.  

Employment law contracts typically are not that complex. Oh sure, they may LOOK complex but most of the time, you build

My colleague Chris Engler reports today on a new Connecticut Appellate Court case that focuses on a often misunderstood concept in employment contracts — the need for “consideration”.  What was it that Dire Straits’ sang about in the 1980s? Getting “Money for Nothing”?

We’ve all been told that you can’t get something for nothing.  That lesson was reiterated in a new case by the Appellate Court due to be officially released next week. 

The Facts

As told by the Court, the facts of the case,  Thoma v. Oxford Performance Materials, Inc., revolve around the employer’s attempts to attract investors. 

One investment company told the employer, Oxford, that it wanted assurances that key personnel would not leave.  Oxford dutifully entered into employment contracts with various employees, including Lynne Thoma.

The details of the contracts are important.  This first employment contract gave Ms. Thoma a higher salary, job security (termination could only be with 60 days’ notice), and a severance package.  In return, Ms. Thoma promised not to leave during the contract period and not to work for a competitor for six months after leaving.  Ms. Thoma signed this contract.

 At this point, both parties had gotten a benefit, and all seemed well.

But then a second investment company informed Oxford of its dissatisfaction because the employment contract was “too strong.”  So Oxford went back to the drawing board and crafted new contracts.

 Ms. Thoma’s second contract was quite different.  It removed all of the monetary elements, including the salary increase.  The new contract also allowed Oxford to fire Ms. Thoma without notice or cause.  Finally, it prohibited Ms. Thoma from working for a competitor.  (The length of this prohibition was unclear.  If you’re a contract jargon junkie, I recommend reading the court’s analysis in full.) 

Nevertheless, Ms. Thoma went ahead and signed this contract as well.

A year later, Oxford fired Ms. Thoma.  She demanded the benefits from the first contract.  Thus commenceth this case.

Is the Second Contract Enforceable?

Ultimately, both the trial court and the appellate court sided with Ms. Thoma, concluding that she didn’t receive any consideration in exchange for the sacrifices she made in the second contract.  In other words, she gave up some perks without getting anything in return.


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I’ll first acknowledge the obvious: UConn’s national championships in both men’s and women’s basketball is a weak excuse for a post on employment law topics.

And yet, that hasn’t stopped me before. (See 2009, 2011, etc.)

For Kevin Ollie, the victory provides a nice financial bonus to him.  How do I know this? Because

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court revisited the subject of arbitration provisions in the employment context, creating some concern among legislators about the implications of this decision. 

In this week’s Connecticut Law Tribune, my colleague Cara Ceraso has drafted a nifty article about legislation now pending in Congress that would allow employees to bring their

In a decision released today, the Connecticut Appellate Court upheld a lower court judgment that found that a local lawfirm breached its employment contract to an associate by failing to pay that associate a bonus.

It’s rare to see lawfirms involved in employment disputes, and even rarer, to have cases proceed all the way to

In Connecticut, the loyalties between the Red Sox and Yankees are about evenly split.   So, for now, it’s baseball nirvana here in the state.   If both win their divisional series, there will be many late nights here in Connecticut watching a Yankees-Red Sox matchup.Go Yankees!

In honor of the baseball playoffs beginning this week, I thought I