“At will” employment status defeats fraudulent inducement claims

Sawyer v. DuPont presented employee claims of fraudulent inducement to leave jobs with DuPont for new positions at a wholly-owned subsidiary.  No. 11-40454 (April 20, 2012).   The Court began by reminding of the deference for intermediate appellate opinions in making an “Erie guess” about state law — here, the “at will” employment doctrine in Texas and its prohibition of fraudulent inducement claims about employment relationships.  Op. at  5.  Based on intermediate court authority, the Court concluded that a CBA that was terminable on notice did not change the employees’ at-will status, which thus barred their claims.  Op. at 9.  The Court also found that oral representations to another group of employees were not sufficiently definite to change their at-will status, citing Montgomery County Hospital District v. Brown, 965 SW.2d 501 (Tex. 1998).  Op. at 10.  Summary judgment for DuPont was affirmed.

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