Under North Carolina law, contracts signed between two individuals, two companies, or an individual and a company are legally enforceable unless one or both parties agree that they will break the law. Contracts usually include an end date, after which the parties are free from their contractual obligations. If one of the parties breaks the promises they made in the contract, it is called breach of contract. If you suffered financial losses because the person or company with whom you signed a contract did not fulfil the terms of the agreement, you have the right to file a breach of contract lawsuit. If your employer has violated the terms of your employment contract, or if your employer is accusing you of breach of contract, contact the breach of contract lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Charlotte, North Carolina.
North Carolina Breach of Contract Lawyers
Breach of contract laws apply to all kinds of contracts, not only employment contracts. For example, these same laws govern disputes between buyers and sellers, between business partners, and between landlords and tenants. The following are some situations in which an employee might sue an employer for breach of contract:
- The employer did not provide the employee with the compensation or benefits specified in the contract
- The employee’s working conditions were not what the parties agreed on in the contract
- The employer required the employee to perform job duties other than what was specified in the contract (for example, the contract might say that the employee must be on call one weekend per month, but in practice, the employer asks the employee to be on call almost every weekend)
These are some reasons that an employer might sue an employee for breach of contract:
- The employee quit their job before the end of the contract period
- The employee, in the course of performing their job duties, negligently caused the employer to suffer financial losses
- The employee did not return company-owned equipment to the employer after ending their employment on otherwise good terms
Not all employment disputes fall under the category of breach of contract, although some adverse actions by employers could be considered either breach of contract or wrongful termination of employment. Employment discrimination and retaliation, however, are even more serious issues than breach of contract. The North Carolina breach of contract lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP.
The Statute of Limitations for Breach of Contract Lawsuits
In breach of contract disputes, the statute of limitations begins counting down on the day that the non-breaching party discovered the breach. The length of the statute of limitations for filing a breach of contract lawsuit depends on the nature of the contract, as follows:
- For most contracts, including employment contracts, the statute of limitations is three years.
- For contracts governing the purchase or sale of goods, the statute of limitations is four years.
- For contracts signed under seal, the statute of limitations is ten years.
If the employment contract you have signed appears untenable or if one party has already violated the terms of the contract, it is never too soon to contact North Carolina breach of contract lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP. Your lawyer can help you determine when the breach occurred and then can help you repair the breach or prepare for a lawsuit.
How to Protect Yourself Against a Breach of Contract Lawsuit
The best way to avoid a breach of contract lawsuit is to take the utmost care to ensure that the contract says exactly what you and your employer want it to say before you sign it. In other words, you and your employer should be on the same page about all aspects of your employment, and the written contract should accurately reflect your verbal agreement. You should review every provision of the contract with a North Carolina employment lawyer, and if you or the employer requests changes before you sign, you should also have your lawyer review each subsequent draft of the contract.
The following sections of employment contracts are especially prone to becoming the source of breach of contract disputes, but your employment lawyer can help you word them in the most dispute-proof ways possible:
- Duration of Employment and Procedures for Renewal – Is there a potential for renewal after the contract period ends? If so, how and when must the parties indicate their intention to renew or extend the contract? Does the contract automatically renew itself? If it does, then what is the proper procedure for one party to notify the other if it does not wish to renew the contract?
- Force Majeure Clause – A force majeure event is an unforeseeable and majorly disruptive event that is beyond the parties’ control; examples of force majeure events include wars, pandemics, and natural disasters. Force majeure events are sometimes called “acts of God.” A force majeure clause in an employment contract says that the parties agree to hold each other harmless if one party cannot fulfil their contractual obligations because of a force majeure event. Some force majeure clauses leave open to interpretation what counts as a force majeure event, while others include long lists of possible disasters and emergencies.
- Non-Compete Clause – A non-compete clause prohibits an employee from opening a business that competes directly with the former employer after the employment contract ends. The courts will not enforce non-compete clauses if they are so restrictive that they make it impossible for the former employee to practice his or her profession anywhere in North Carolina after working for the employer. If your employer wants you to sign a contract with a non-compete clause, you should review it first with your lawyer and make sure you know what you are signing.
Contact a North Carolina Employment Lawyer About Breach of Contract
If your employer has not fulfilled the promises they made in your employment contract, it is not too soon to contact a North Carolina breach of contract lawyer. Contact the Charlotte, North Carolina employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP to set up a consultation.