Each year, thousands of college students and resident assistants throughout the country agree to abide by the terms of university handbooks. Many fail to understand that by doing so, they are entering into a contract. Failing to abide by the terms of those handbooks could constitute breach of contract in New York.

A recent example of the consequences of breaching the terms of a student handbook took place at New York University. On Thursday, April 12, more than half of the resident assistants in an NYU residence hall were terminated for New York breach of contract. When firing the employees, the University cited the fact that the resident assistants attended a party at which alcohol and underage students were present. The University issues a Student Conduct Handbook that applies to students as well as resident assistants. Under its terms, alcohol is not permitted in the rooms of students under age 21. Further, those who are of legal age are obliged to prevent the possession of alcohol by underage guests.

University spokesman Philip Lentz pointed to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 when addressing the firings. While he stated that under the Act, school administrators are prohibited from discussing the private details of incidents involving students, the University’s response to the allegations were appropriate and necessary. 

To prove breach of contract under New York contract law, NYU will have to show:
  • The handbook constituted an enforceable agreement that existed between the University and the resident assistants.
  • NYU fulfilled its obligations under the handbook.
  • The resident assistants breached the handbook.
  • NYU sustained damages as a direct result of the resident assistants’ failure to fulfill their obligations under the handbook.

To learn more about enforcing or breaching the terms of a contract, contact a New York breach of contract attorney today at (888) 497-3410 for a consultation.
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