Leahy v. Starflo Corp., No. 23857

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtCHANDLER; HARWELL
Citation314 S.C. 546,431 S.E.2d 567
Parties, 127 Lab.Cas. P 57,672, 8 IER Cases 838 Timothy A. LEAHY, Respondent, v. The STARFLO CORPORATION, Appellant. . Heard
Docket NumberNo. 23857
Decision Date06 April 1993

Page 567

431 S.E.2d 567
314 S.C. 546, 127 Lab.Cas. P 57,672,
8 IER Cases 838
Timothy A. LEAHY, Respondent,
v.
The STARFLO CORPORATION, Appellant.
No. 23857.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
Heard April 6, 1993.
Decided May 10, 1993.

John B. McLeod, of Haynsworth, Marion, McKay & Guerard, Greenville, for appellant.

Thomas B. Bryant, III and Mary Helen Dantzler, both of Bryant, Fanning & Shuler, Orangeburg, for respondent.

CHANDLER, Justice:

Starflo Corporation (Employer) appeals the Master's Order holding it liable for the wrongful discharge of Respondent, Timothy Leahy (Leahy).

We affirm.

Page 568

FACTS

Leahy worked for Employer from March, 1981, until February 3, 1989, at which time he was fired without prior warning or notice. At the time of his discharge, he was Manager of Manufacturing Services.

Leahy sued for wrongful discharge, alleging violation by Employer of its Policy Manual Procedure # 120-01; the Policy Manual required that, prior to an Employee's discharge, four steps of progressive discipline be followed. 1 Employer answered, alleging (1) that the Policy Manual did not create a contract of employment and (2) that, it had disclaimed any contractual relationship with its employees.

The matter was referred to the Master, with finality, who held that (1) Policy Manual Procedure # 120-01 contractually bound Employer and (2) that Employer's disclaimer was ambiguous and did not circumvent the required four-step disciplinary procedure.

ISSUES

(1) Did Policy Manual Procedure # 120-01 constitute a contract between Leahy and Employer?

(2) Did Employer effectively disclaim the Policy Manual Procedure?

SCOPE OF REVIEW

Our scope of review governing this action is set forth in Townes Assoc., Ltd. v. City of Greenville: 2

In an action at law, on appeal of a case tried without a jury, the findings of fact of the judge will not be disturbed upon appeal unless found to be without evidence which reasonably supports the judge's findings. The rule is the same whether the judge's findings are made with or without, a reference. The judge's findings are equivalent to a jury's findings in a law action.

DISCUSSION

I. Policy Manual

Employer contends that its Policy Manual, intended as a guidance tool for managers, did not alter Leahy's at-will employment status. We disagree.

In Small v. Springs Industries, 292 S.C. 481, 357 S.E.2d 452 (1987), we held that an employer may alter traditional employment by issuance of handbooks, policies, manuals or bulletins, stating:

Once Springs voluntarily chose to publish the handbook and bulletin and orally assure the employees that the provisions of those publications would be followed, there were 'strong equitable and social policy reasons militating against allowing employers to promulgate for their employees potentially misleading personnel manuals while reserving the right to deviate from them...

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9 practice notes
  • Moss v. City of Abbeville, Civil Action No. 8:09-cv-01859-PBH
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • 15 Julio 2010
    ...314 S.C. 146, 442 S.E.2d 183, 183 (S.C.Ct.App.1994) (company "distributed" a sexual harassment policy); Leahy v. Starflo Corp., 314 S.C. 546, 431 S.E.2d 567, 568 (S.C.1993) (employer "posted" a four-step disciplinary procedure); Hannah v. United Refrig. Servs., Inc., 312......
  • Williams v. Riedman, No. 3127.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 28 Febrero 2000
    ...can be drawn from the evidence. Id. Because this was an action for breach of a contract, it is an action at law. Leahy v. Starflo Corp., 314 S.C. 546, 431 S.E.2d 567 (1993). Our review of an action at law tried by a jury extends merely to correcting errors of law. We will not disturb the fa......
  • Taylor v. Cummins Atlantic, Inc., Civ. A. No. 3:92-1850-19BD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • 1 Marzo 1994
    ...employer distributed or intentionally published the policy to the plaintiff. See Springs I, 357 S.E.2d at 453; Leahy v. Starflo Corp., 431 S.E.2d 567, 568 (S.C.1993); Hannah v. United Refrig. Servs., Inc., 430 S.E.2d 539, 540 (S.C.App. 1993); Kumpf v. United Tel. Co. of the Carolinas, Inc.,......
  • Prescott v. Farmers Telephone Co-op., Inc., No. 2714
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 3 Junio 1997
    ...to the jury of the existence of an employment contract from a handbook which contained termination provisions. In Leahy v. Starflo Corp., 314 S.C. 546, 431 S.E.2d 567 (1993), the court held that a four-step disciplinary procedure, posted Page 702 on bulletin boards accessible to employees, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Moss v. City of Abbeville, Civil Action No. 8:09-cv-01859-PBH
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • 15 Julio 2010
    ...314 S.C. 146, 442 S.E.2d 183, 183 (S.C.Ct.App.1994) (company "distributed" a sexual harassment policy); Leahy v. Starflo Corp., 314 S.C. 546, 431 S.E.2d 567, 568 (S.C.1993) (employer "posted" a four-step disciplinary procedure); Hannah v. United Refrig. Servs., Inc., 312......
  • Williams v. Riedman, No. 3127.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 28 Febrero 2000
    ...can be drawn from the evidence. Id. Because this was an action for breach of a contract, it is an action at law. Leahy v. Starflo Corp., 314 S.C. 546, 431 S.E.2d 567 (1993). Our review of an action at law tried by a jury extends merely to correcting errors of law. We will not disturb the fa......
  • Taylor v. Cummins Atlantic, Inc., Civ. A. No. 3:92-1850-19BD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • 1 Marzo 1994
    ...employer distributed or intentionally published the policy to the plaintiff. See Springs I, 357 S.E.2d at 453; Leahy v. Starflo Corp., 431 S.E.2d 567, 568 (S.C.1993); Hannah v. United Refrig. Servs., Inc., 430 S.E.2d 539, 540 (S.C.App. 1993); Kumpf v. United Tel. Co. of the Carolinas, Inc.,......
  • Prescott v. Farmers Telephone Co-op., Inc., No. 2714
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of South Carolina
    • 3 Junio 1997
    ...to the jury of the existence of an employment contract from a handbook which contained termination provisions. In Leahy v. Starflo Corp., 314 S.C. 546, 431 S.E.2d 567 (1993), the court held that a four-step disciplinary procedure, posted Page 702 on bulletin boards accessible to employees, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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