Squire. Plaintiff objected on the grounds that it would be "unethical" to terminate Ms. Squire before a less senior marketing representative and the Court finds that a genuine issue of material fact exists whether NAR had at least an informal "last-in-first-out" policy that would have been violated by doing so. Plaintiff also objected on the grounds that Ms. Squire's treatment seemed racially motivated. Ms. Squire is a protected minority. The Court cannot say at this stage that plaintiff's perception of racism was unreasonable as a matter of law.
Plaintiff's abrupt termination on the heels of voicing her opposition to Ms. Squire's termination is also sufficient at this stage to establish a prima facie case that there was a causal connection. The instructions from Ms. Crowdus came on June 23, 1988; a meeting between Brenda Yankaskas, an NAR director, and Charles Morrison, a vice president of marketing, at which plaintiff's termination was discussed, took place as late as July 14, 1988; and plaintiff was terminated on August 1, 1988. This temporal proximity is enough to survive summary judgment.
II. CONTRACT CLAIMS
District of Columbia law recognizes that contractual terms may be implied from an employee handbook or manual. Washington Welfare Association Inc. v. Wheeler, 496 A.2d 613, 615 (D.C. 1985); McConnell v. Howard University, 260 U.S. App. D.C. 192, 818 F.2d 58, 62-63 (D.C. Cir. 1987); Greene v. Howard University, 134 U.S. App. D.C. 81, 412 F.2d 1128, 1132 (D.C. Cir. 1969). And, in general, "whether a personnel manual creates contractual rights for the employee is a question for the jury." Wheeler, 496 A.2d at 615.
An employer, however, may effectively disclaim any implied contracts. E.g., Doe v. First National Bank of Chicago, 865 F.2d 864, 873 (7th Cir. 1989) ("We fail to see how a document which clearly disclaims in unambiguous language any purpose to bind the parties can constitute 'a promise clear enough that an employee would reasonably believe that an offer has been made.'") (citation omitted) (Illinois law); Lee v. Sperry Corp., 678 F. Supp. 1415, 1418 (D. Minn. 1987) (Illinois law); Castiglione v. Johns Hopkins Hospital, 69 Md. App. 325, 517 A.2d 786, 793 (Ct. Spec. App. 1986) (Maryland law), cert. denied, 309 Md. 325, 523 A.2d 1013 (1987).
Moreover, the legal effect of any such disclaimers is, in the first instance, a question for the Court. E.g., Nettles v. Techplan Corp., 704 F. Supp. 95, 97-98 (D.S.C. 1988) ("even though the jury would decide if the manual created a contract absent a conspicuous disclaimer, the issue of whether the disclaimer was appropriately conspicuous is, in the first instance, one for the court to decide").
Here the manual in existence at the time plaintiff was terminated contains two relevant disclaimers:
This handbook does not constitute an employment contract in whole or in part, and the Association reserves the right to add, amend or delete any policy or procedure stated herein at any time.