Oneal v. Colton Consol. Sch. Dist.

16 Wash. App. 488, 557 P.2d 11 (1976)



For the purposes of determining whether an employee could comply with an employment contract, impossibility may be defined not only as strict impossibility, but also impracticality arising from extreme and unreasonable difficulty, expense, injury, or loss involved.


Appellant teacher agreed to teach for a certain school year but, during the summer, tendered his resignation due to deteriorating eyesight caused by diabetes. The teacher sought paid sick leave. The school district refused the resignation, refused to pay sick leave, and then dismissed the teacher for failing to appear to teach under § 28A.58.450. The court on appeal held that the dismissal was wrongful because the teacher could not perform the requirements of his employment contract.  The court reversed the teacher's discharge by the school district, but affirmed the denial of sick leave benefits.


Was appellant discharged of his employment contract by operation of law?




The court found that impossibility of performance discharged the contract by operation of law. The court thus ordered the discharge expunged from the teacher's employment record. The court found, however, that the teacher was not entitled to sick leave benefits because, when the contract dissolved by operation of law, the obligations of the school district to pay for sick leave also dissolved. Therefore, the court affirmed the refusal to pay sick leave benefits and it found no abuse of discretion in the failure to award the teacher his attorney's fees because each party had prevailed on one issue.

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