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Duldulao v. St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital Center

Supreme Court of Illinois

January 30, 1987, Filed

No. 62737


 [*484]   [**315]   [****9]  Plaintiff, Nora E. Duldulao, brought this action in the circuit court of Cook County, alleging that defendant, St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital Center, discharged her from its employ in violation of the terms of an employee handbook. Plaintiff claimed that the handbook, distributed by defendant, created enforceable contractual rights. Both parties moved for summary judgment. The trial court denied plaintiff's motion but granted defendant's motion, entering judgment in favor of defendant. The appellate court reversed both rulings. (136 Ill. App. 3d 763, 765-66, 91 Ill. Dec. 470, 483 N.E.2d 956.) This court allowed defendant's [***2]  petition for leave to appeal (103 Ill. 2d R. 315).

Defendant raises four issues for review: (1) Did the employee handbook in this case create contractual terms binding defendant to a particular procedure for terminating plaintiff's employment? (2) Did defendant in fact terminate plaintiff's employment in accordance with the provisions of the employee handbook? (3) Did the appellate court improperly reverse the denial of plaintiff's motion for summary judgment? and (4) Did the appellate court err in deciding the case without oral argument?

Defendant initially hired plaintiff in 1968, and rehired her in 1970 when she returned from a brief stay in the Philippines. In 1971 she was promoted to head nurse, and in 1972 she was named staff development coordinator of the department of nursing. She served in this position until September 14, 1981, when defendant reorganized several of its departments. Plaintiff became human resources development coordinator, a position which she claims was identical to her previous position. Defendant, however, submitted the affidavits of supervisors who claim that plaintiff's new position included new  [*485]  duties and responsibilities. On December [***3]  11, 1981, plaintiff was given a sheet entitled "Probationary Evaluation"  [**316]   [****10]  and also a "Final Notice" informing her that she was terminated as of the end of the day. Both sheets listed essentially the same alleged infractions:

"Unsatisfactory performance was demonstrated by the failure to properly monitor the Legal Implications of Documentation seminar and the Patient Education seminar. Further unsatisfactory performance was demonstrated by failure to follow instructions regarding CPR recertification and monitoring of the Patient Education Seminar."

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115 Ill. 2d 482 *; 505 N.E.2d 314 **; 1987 Ill. LEXIS 158 ***; 106 Ill. Dec. 8 ****; 1 I.E.R. Cas. (BNA) 1428; 105 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P55,672


Subsequent History:  [***1]  Rehearing Denied March 30, 1987.

Prior History: Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. William R. Quinlan, Judge, presiding.

Disposition: Affirmed in part and remanded.


handbook, employee handbook, employees, appellate court, terminated, probationary period, notice, contractual, rights, disciplinary procedure, permanent employee, probationary, progressive, courts, policy statement, summary judgment, transferred, binding, immediate dismissal, promotions, undisputed, contents, offenses, promises

Labor & Employment Law, Employment Relationships, At Will Employment, Duration of Employment, General Overview, Employment Contracts, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contract Formation, Acceptance, Contracts Law, Wrongful Termination, Breach of Contract, Contract Interpretation, Ambiguities & Contra Proferentem, Defenses, Ambiguities & Mistakes, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions