Little Lamb Company needs an additional programmer for a special project. The company enters into a contract with Mary to complete this project. Just as the project is nearing completion, a new need arises for her services. She is asked to continue with the company to complete the new project. While completing the new project, the supervisor begins working more closely with Mary and requires her to use company materials and equipment while adhering to company work schedules. After two years, economic conditions force the company to make budget cuts. Mary is asked to leave. Thirty days later, a major contract is acquired by the company, which reinstates the need for Mary’s services as a programmer. However, the supervisor chooses to hire his equally-qualified cousin and not offer Mary the opportunity to return.
1) Is Mary an independent contractor or an employee? Describe the factors that led to your determination.
2) Has the employer/employee relationship changed over the course of time? If so, how?
3) Was Mary’s release legal under the doctrine of employment-at-will? Why or why not? If not, which of the following exceptions to employment-at-will have been violated? Why?
a) Breach of public policy
b) Breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing
c) Breach of implied contract