Appeal from Houston Circuit Court. (CV-92-825). Edward Jackson, TRIAL JUDGE.
Released for Publication March 25, 1995.
Houston, Maddox, Almon, Ingram, and Cook, JJ., concur. Kennedy, J., Dissents.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Houston
The plaintiff, Jimmy Dykes, appeals from a summary judgment for the defendants, Lane Trucking, Inc., and one of its employees, Tommy Andrews, in this action seeking damages for an alleged wrongful termination of employment. We affirm.
Dykes, a truck driver, alleged that Andrews had fraudulently induced him to accept employment with Lane Trucking by misrepresenting to him that he would not be required to drive an excessive number of hours. He further alleged that Lane Trucking had terminated his employment after he refused to make a delivery that, he says, would have placed him in violation of guidelines issued by the United States Department of Transportation restricting the number of hours that truck drivers can drive within a certain period of time. The defendants contend that Dykes was an employee-at-will and, therefore, that the trial court could have properly based its judgment on Dykes's employment status.
After carefully reviewing the record, we conclude that the summary judgment was proper. It is undisputed that Andrews, who was the only person who dealt directly with Dykes during the hiring process, did not personally offer Dykes lifetime employment or employment of any definite duration. Furthermore, the "Employee Personnel Policy Handbook," upon which Dykes partially relies in an attempt to come within the rule recognized in Hoffman-LaRoche, Inc. v. Campbell, 512 So. 2d 725 (Ala. 1987), provided, in pertinent part, as follows:
"We want our employees to be happy working here. That's one reason we provide good pay and good working conditions. We want you to enjoy working here.
"However, we should all understand that employment at Lane Trucking, Inc., is not offered, guaranteed, contracted, or promised for any specific length of time. You have the right to leave our company at any time and the company has the right to terminate the employment relationship at any time. This is just good business practice for everyone.
"The policies described in this employee handbook are not conditions of employment and the language is not intended to create a contract between Lane Trucking, Inc., and its employees.
"We consider the first 90 days that you work for us a 'try-out' period. It gives us an opportunity to find out whether your work, your attitude, and your attendance measure up to our standards of performance, and it gives you the opportunity to see if you will enjoy working here.
"At any time during this period, you may decide to resign without stating a reason, or you may be released by the company on the same basis without any bad effect on your employment record. We think that this policy is a fair one in that each of us will have this period of time to adapt to our working relationship. Also, our employment 'at will' policy will remain in effect ...