Corporate Credos: Vows That Aren't

MAYBE CORPORATE CREDOS don't mean much after all--legally anyway. A U.S. District Court judge just ruled against a former employee who said Johnson & Johnson violated its corporate mission statement by firing him in 1989. In his wrongful termination suit, former R&D executive Daniel Tripodi pointed to a line in the credo that says workers "must have a sense of security" (Up Front, Nov. 21). And that, argued Tripodi, is a binding contract. The 51-year-old credo lays out the company's responsibilities to customers, employees, and others.

In December, a jury sided with Tripodi and awarded him $434,000. But Judge Dickinson Debevoise set aside the verdict. He said the credo lists "general policies or goals" and is "aspirational rather than contractual." Tripodi's lawyer is planning to appeal, although the odds of gaining a reversal are slim.

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