If a disciplinary procedure is promised. While Ohio courts are fairly conservative in upholding the concept of at-will employment, employers should be extremely cautious about allowing anyone in the organization to make any promises to an employee or applicant.
It is not necessary to have a written policy in order to create a contractual obligation to follow a disciplinary procedure. A progressive discipline procedure that has been consistently followed for a reasonable amount of time may also be considered a “contract” and binding.
Ohio courts have said that facts and circumstances surrounding an oral employment-at-will agreement, including the character of the employment, custom, the course of dealing between the parties, company policy, or any other relevant factor, should be considered in order to determine the agreement's explicit and implicit terms concerning discharge.