What Is a Breach of Employment Contract?
In a perfect world, employment agreements would be entered into with honest intentions, both sides would hold up their end of the agreement and no disputes would arise. However, this is not always the case and when one party involved in an employment contract fails to honor any obligations established by the contract, a breach of contract has occurred. If you believe your employer has committed a breach of employment contract by firing you without just cause or failing to pay you the salary you were promised, do not hesitate to protect your legal rights. Contact our California employment law attorney at Davtyan Law Firm today to discuss the possibility of filing a breach of employment contract lawsuit against your employer.
What is an Employment Contract?
An employment contract is a legally binding agreement between an employer and employee detailing, among other things, the rights, responsibilities and obligations of each party during the period of employment. An employment contract may include information about wages, job duties, vacation time, probationary periods, confidentiality clauses and termination procedures. Most employment contracts detail the specific circumstances under which an employee can be terminated (“causes”), and once a contract is entered into by an employer and employee, both parties are obligated to honor the terms of the contract, with one exception. If an employee no longer wishes to work for an employer, the employee has the right to end the employment relationship, regardless of the terms of the contract.
At-Will Employment and Breach of Contract
California is an at-will employment state, which means employers in California generally have the right to fire an employee without notice and for any reason, or for no reason at all. However, there are some important exceptions to the at-will employment statute in California, one being breach of employment contract. If an employee has a contract for a specific period of time, the employer must follow the termination procedures set forth in the contract or face a breach of employment contract issue. If, for example, an employee’s contract sets an employment term of one year, the employee cannot be fired before the end of the contract, unless one of the following is true:
- The employee has committed a willful breach of duty within the course of employment
- There has been a habitual neglect of, or continued inability to perform, employment duties
If an employer has developed a tiered discipline system – a verbal warning, then a written reprimand, then dismissal – the employer is legally bound to follow that system, or else commit a breach of contract violation.
California Wrongful Termination
When a California employer fires or otherwise terminates an employee in breach of an employment contract, this is known as wrongful termination. California employment law specifically prohibits employers from terminating an employee in violation of the terms of an employment contract, which is designed to give the employee a reasonable sense of job security. Employees who are terminated in violation of an employment contract promising them continued employment for a certain period of time or barring the employer from firing them without just cause, may have a legitimate wrongful termination claim.
Recovering Damages in Breach of Employment Contract
In California, an employment contract is breached when either the employee or employer fails to hold up their end of the agreement.
When an employment contract is breached by an employer, California law provides that the affected employee can pursue damages for any losses suffered as a result of the breach (called expectation damages) by filing a lawsuit against the employer. If an employee is suing an employer for wrongful termination, the damages the employee is entitled to include the salary he or she would have earned on the job.
Contact Our Employment Contract Attorneys Today
There are federal and state laws in place that prohibit employers from unlawfully breaching an employment contract. Still, many employees aren’t aware of the extent of their legal rights when it comes to employers complying with the terms of their employment contract. For more information about California employment contracts, or to speak to an experienced California wrongful termination attorney about a potential violation of your contract, contact our breach of employment contract lawyer at Davtyan Law Firm today.