Is An Employee Handbook (Containing Arbitration Provision) Legally Binding In Texas ?

In Tenet Healthcare Ltd. v. Cooper, 960 S.W.2d 386 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.], the employer provided the plaintiff with an employee handbook containing an arbitration provision. The preface to the handbook stated that it was "not intended to constitute a legal contract with any employee or group of employees because that can only occur with a written agreement executed by a facility Executive Director and AMI Senior Executive Officer." Tenet, 960 S.W.2d at 386. The handbook also contained an acknowledgment form that was signed by the plaintiff. The form stated that the plaintiff understood that as a condition of continued employment, she agreed to submit any complaints to arbitration and to abide by and accept the arbitrators' decision. But the form also stated that "no written statement or agreement in this handbook concerning employment is binding." Id. at 387. The court held that the agreement to arbitrate was not supported by valid consideration. See id. at 389. The court rejected the employer's argument that the parties made mutual promises to arbitrate because the handbook expressly provided that nothing in the handbook regarding employment was binding. See id. at 389.