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Smith v. Kansas Orthopaedic Center, P.A.

Court of Appeals of Kansas

December 27, 2013

Lana SMITH, Appellant,
v.
KANSAS ORTHOPAEDIC CENTER, P.A., Appellee.

Page 791

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 792

Syllabus by the Court

In an at-will employment, the employer can change the terms under which the employee is compensated for wages not yet earned by providing notice to the employee. If the employee continues to work after the new compensation terms have been announced, the employee impliedly accepts those terms.

Jim Lawing, of Wichita, for appellant.

Boyd A. Byers and Amelia G. Yowell, of Foulston Siefkin LLP, of Wichita, for appellee.

Before MALONE, C.J., LEBEN and ARNOLD-BURGER, JJ.

LEBEN, J.

In 2007, Lana Smith began work as a physical therapist for a Wichita medical practice. After she left its employment, she sued for bonuses she said were owed to her. Smith said that the practice's business manager promised her a minimum $10,000 per year bonus before she began work.

But Smith's employment agreement also clearly provided that she was an at-will employee, something she has not contested, and the compensation of at-will employees may be changed on a going-forward basis. Her employer announced new compensation terms during 2008, paid her more than $10,000 in bonuses for 2008, and applied the new compensation terms to bonuses in later years. By staying on after new compensation terms are announced for future compensation, an at-will employee impliedly accepts those terms. Accordingly, the district court properly granted summary judgment against Smith's claim for additional bonuses from 2009 until she ended her employment in 2011.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

While Smith was employed by another Wichita medical practice, [49 Kan.App.2d 813] she applied for a physical-therapist position with Kansas Orthopaedic Center, P.A. She signed an employment application that said she understood that she would be an at-will employee and that no one acting for the company could bind it to anything to the contrary:

" I understand that, if hired, my employment will be at-will and may be terminated for any reason, with or without cause, at any time at my option or by the company. I understand that no employee, officer or agent of the company may bind it to anything contrary to the above by oral or printed statements, including ...

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