If you have signed an employment contract, you are already in a stronger position than many workers in Indiana. Because of Indiana’s at-will employment laws, your employer has the right to fire you from your job, even if you did not do anything wrong, unless you have an employment contract that guarantees in writing that your employer has promised to keep you on the payroll until a certain date. Employment contracts protect your rights as well as those of your employer. If your employer does not keep the promises they made in the contract, you can sue your employer for breach of contract. Of course, breach of contract laws also work the other way around, meaning that your employer can sue you for breach of contract if you do not fulfill your contractual obligations. The Indianapolis employment contract lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can answer your questions about breach of contract, whether you have already signed an employment contract or have just received a job offer and have not yet signed the contract.
Elements of an Employment Contract
If you file a breach of contract lawsuit, you are trying to show that your employer did not do something that they promised to do. Your only legally valid evidence that your employer promised to do something is a written contract signed by your employer, namely your employment contract. No two employment agreements are exactly alike, since no two jobs are identical; you and your employer can agree to do or not do almost anything, as long as the things you are promising do not violate any laws. (For example, your employment contract cannot state that your employer will pay you $6.75 per hour, since the minimum wage in Indiana is $7.25 per hour.) An employment contract should include the following elements:
- The period of time during which you agree to work and your employer agrees to pay you (such as one year, beginning on August 1, 2021)
- How much your employer will pay you (your annual or monthly salary) and how often you will receive a paycheck
- Any other benefits and perquisites your employer will provide to you (such as health insurance benefits, X paid vacation days per year, X weeks of parental leave, an assigned parking space at your workplace, and employer-provided housing)
- Your job duties
- The procedure for renewing the contract or for notifying the other party that you do not plan to renew it
- The procedure for terminating the contract early
- The procedure for repairing a breach of contract
Before you sign an employment contract, you should review it with an Indianapolis employment contract lawyer to make sure that none of the clauses are worded in a way that would put you at a disadvantage in a contract dispute.
Filing a Breach of Contract Lawsuit in Indiana
If your employer does not fulfill their obligations as per your employment contract, you can sue your employer for breach of contract. The following are some scenarios where a worker might sue their employer for breach of contract:
- The contract says that the employee’s monthly salary will be $5,000 before taxes, but for several months, the employer only pays $3,500 per month before taxes
- The employer promises to reimburse the employee for travel expenses but does not, and instead asks the employee to take a third business trip at her own expense, despite that she has not received reimbursement for the first two trips
- The employment contract said that the employee must only be on call one weekend per month, but the employer has assigned him to be on call for four consecutive weekends, causing him to pay extra for childcare, at his own expense, for those additional weekends
No matter what promise your employer failed to fulfill, you must prove three things in a breach of contract lawsuit:
- You and your employer signed a written contract
- Your employer broke one or more of the promises in the contract
- You suffered financial losses because of your employer’s failure to fulfill their contractual obligations
In Indiana, the statute of limitations for breach of contract lawsuits is 10 years, beginning on the date that you became aware of the breach. Some employment contracts contain provisions about how to repair breaches of contract. You must follow those procedures before filing the breach of contract lawsuit if you want your lawsuit to have a chance in court. The Indianapolis employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can help you make sure that you are in a strong position to file a breach of contract lawsuit.
Is the Problem Breach of Contract or Something Else?
Not all disputes between employers and employees involve breach of contract. These are some other issues that your employment lawyer might wish to discuss with you if you meet with them about your employer’s failure to fulfill contractual obligations:
- Wrongful termination of employment – your employer fired you from your job for an unfair reason
- Force majeure clauses- the reason your employer didn’t fulfill their contractual obligations was beyond their control, such as a natural disaster or a pandemic
- Discrimination – your employer treated you unfairly because of your race, religion, gender, age, or disability
- Separation agreements – your employer offers you an end-of-employment contract when terminating your job, in which you promise not to sue your employer
The Indianapolis employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can help you get to the root of the problem and decide the best steps to take next. It may involve a breach of contract lawsuit or some other kind of legal action.
Contact an Indiana Employment Lawyer About Breach of Contract and Other Employment Contract Disputes
An employment lawyer can help you if your employer has fired you or laid you off from your job when you have not done anything wrong; it could be a case of breach of contract or employment discrimination. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Indianapolis, Indiana to set up a consultation.
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