Question: Dove had been employed by Rose Acre Farm operated by
Dove had been employed by Rose Acre Farm, operated by Rust, its president and principal owner, in the summers and other times from 1972 to 1979. Rust had instituted and maintained extensive bonus programs. In June 1979, Rust called in Dove and other construction crew leaders and offered a bonus of $6,000 each if certain detailed construction work was completed in 12 weeks. In addition to completing the work, Dove would be required to work at least five full days a week for 12 weeks to qualify for the bonus. On the same day Dove's bonus agreement, by mutual consent, was amended to 10 weeks with a bonus of $5,000 to enable him to return to law school by September 1. To qualify for the bonus he would have to work 10 weeks, five days a week, commencing at starting time and quitting only at quitting time. Dove was aware of the provisions concerning absenteeism and tardiness as they affected bonuses, and knew that if he missed any work, for any reason, including illness, he would forfeit the bonus. No exception had ever been made except as may have occurred by clerical error or inadvertence. In the tenth week, Dove came down with strep throat. On Thursday of that week he reported to work with a temperature of 104 degrees, and told Rust that he was unable to work. Rust told him, in effect, that if he went home, he would forfeit the bonus. Rust offered him the opportunity to stay there and lie on a couch, or make up his lost days on Saturday and/or Sunday. Rust told him he could sleep and still qualify for the bonus. Dove left to seek medical treatment and missed two days in the tenth week of the bonus program. Rust refused Dove the bonus based solely upon his missing the two days of work. Was Rust within his legal rights to refuse to pay the bonus?
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