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What state-specific laws govern the employment relationship?
Title 27 of the Labor and Employment Wyoming Statutes contains the majority of the laws governing employer-employee relationships, including:
- payment of wages;
- fair employment practices;
- unemployment; and
- workers’ compensation.
Wyoming’s Administrative Rules include rules governing:
- labor standards;
- unemployment issues;
- workers’ compensation; and
- other employment-related rules.
Most applicable rules can be found under rules for the Department of Workforce Services.
Who do these cover, including categories of workers?
Depending on the specific provision, these laws generally cover employees. Some provisions, including fair employment practices laws, also apply to applicants for employment.
Are there state-specific rules regarding employee/contractor misclassification?
Wyoming has no specific independent contractor misclassification law. Past efforts to enact such a law have failed to garner sufficient votes in the Wyoming legislature.
For both workers’ compensation and unemployment purposes, an ‘independent contractor’ is defined as an individual who performs services for another individual or entity and:
- is free from control or direction over the details of the performance of services by contract and by fact;
- represents his or her services to the public as a self-employed individual or independent contractor; and
- can substitute another person to perform his or her services (Wyo. Stat. §27-14-102(xxiii); §27-3-104).
Must an employment contract be in writing?
No, an express contract for employment may be made either orally or in writing (Finch v. Farmers Co-Op Oil Co. of Sheridan, 2005 WY 41, 109 P.3d 537 (Wyo. 2005)). However, an employment agreement that by its terms is not to be performed within one year of making the agreement must be in writing to be enforceable (Wyo. Stat. §1-23-105; Finch v. Farmers Co-Op Oil Co. of Sheridan, 2005 WY 41, 109 P.3d 537 (Wyo. 2005)).
Employee handbooks, personnel policies, letters of employment, performance evaluations, and a course of dealing may constitute an implied employment contract, absent a clear and conspicuous disclaimer stating that the handbook or policies do not establish, and are not to be implied to create, a contract (Trabing v. Kinko’s, Inc., 2002 WY 171, 57 P.3d 1248 (Wyo. 2002)).
Are any terms implied into employment contracts?
All employment relationships in Wyoming are based on a contract. Unless otherwise addressed in an express contract, all employment contracts in Wyoming are presumed to be at will. Every employment contract contains an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, whether at will or for cause (Wilder v. Cody Cty. Chamber of Comm., 868 P.2d 211 (Wyo. 1994)). Also, if an employer promises employment for a specified time, makes statements limiting the circumstances under which employment can be terminated, or publishes rules or policies which imply that employment will be terminated only for cause, an implied contract may arise which negates the usual presumption of at-will employment.
Are mandatory arbitration agreements enforceable?
Under Wyoming law, a written agreement to submit any existing or future controversy to arbitration is valid, enforceable and irrevocable, except on grounds which exist for the revocation of the contract. This includes arbitration agreements between employers and employees or between their respective representatives (Wyo. Stat. §1-36-103).
How can employers make changes to existing employment agreements?
Oral modifications of an existing contractual agreement are permissible. However, the general rule is that if an original agreement was required to comply with the statute of frauds, any material modification of that agreement must also conform to the statute of frauds (Roussalis v. Wyoming Med. Ctr., 4 P.3d 209, 242 (Wyo. 2000) citing Allen v. Kingdon, 723 P.2d 394, 396–97 (Utah 1986)). One exception is where a party has changed position by performing an oral modification so that it would be inequitable to permit the other party to found a claim or defense on the original agreement as unmodified. Also, if an employment contract includes terms which negate the at-will presumption, the employer must give consideration to the employee to reinstate at-will employment (Brodie v. Gen. Chem. Corp., 112 F.3d 440 (10th Cir. 1997)).
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