Cook v. Heck's, Inc

In Cook v. Heck's, Inc., 176 W. Va. 368, 342 S.E.2d 453 (1986), the Court stated that in the realm of the employer-employee relationship, West Virginia is an "at-will" jurisdiction, that is, that, in the absence of some contractual or legal provision to the contrary, an employment relationship may be terminated, with or without cause, at the will of either the employer or the employee. The Cook case, however, proceeded to hold that a provision in an employee handbook may alter the at-will nature of an employment relationship if there is a definite promise in the handbook by the employer not to discharge the covered employee except for specified reasons. The Court specifically stated: The inclusion in the handbook of specified discipline for violations of particular rules accompanied by the statement that the disciplinary rules constitute a complete list is prima facie evidence of an offer for a unilateral contract of employment modifying the right of the employer to discharge without cause. (176 W. Va. at 374, 342 S.E.2d at 459.)