Fortune v. Nat'l Cash Register Co.

373 Mass. 96, 364 N.E.2d 1251 (1977)

 

RULE:

A written terminable at will employment contract contains an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and a termination not made in good faith constitutes a breach of the contract. 

FACTS:

Appellant, a long-term salesman for appellee, was terminated by appellee in advance of receiving all the commission he alleged he was owed on a large sale he had secured. Appellant sued appellee for breach of his employment agreement, claiming bonus payments were due under the agreement, and seekingt recovery in quantum meruit for the reasonable value of his services relating to the same sales transaction. The trial court entered judgment for appellant based on a jury verdict finding a breach of contract by appellee. That judgment was reversed by the lower appeals court. On appeal, the court again reversed, affirming the judgment of the trial court.

ISSUE:

Did evidence warrant a finding that termination of the appellant's employment was not made in good faith?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

Although appellee did not breach a specific provision in the parties' employment agreement, the contract included an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and appellant was entitled to a jury's finding that a termination not made in good faith constituted a breach of contract by appellee.

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