United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Employment — severance pay
Where employees voluntarily terminated their employment rather than wait for the company to close, they are not entitled to severance benefits.
“It is true that after the announcement that employment at the mill would continue past May 2, some mill employees certainly faced a difficult choice between leaving the mill to pursue the employment offers they had obtained in a small town or staying until the mill closed to collect severance. LeFebvre and Reddinger chose to accept new employment instead of continuing to work at the mill, an understandable decision. As relevant here, though, when they decided to stop working on May 2, they could not have reasonably believed that they would receive severance. See McLellan, 758 N.W.2d at 109 (rejecting promissory estoppel argument where plaintiff could not reasonably believe he had valid offer in light of written agreement to the contrary); Dunn v. Milwaukee Cnty., 693 N.W.2d 82, 89 (Wis. Ct. App. 2005) (declining to grant equitable relief of promissory estoppel for plaintiffs’ actions in 2003 where promise had been withdrawn in 2002). In these circumstances the promissory estoppel claim cannot succeed. To the extent the plaintiffs are still pursuing an ERISA estoppel claim, it similarly fails for lack of reasonable reliance. See Kannapien v. Quaker Oats Co., 507 F.3d 629, 636 (7th Cir. 2007).”
Appeals from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Griesbach, J., Williams, J.