The gig economy is getting bigger and bigger while stable jobs with employment contracts are getting harder to find. Even full-time jobs with benefits like paid family leave and employer-provided health insurance tend to exist on an at-will basis, which means that the employer can fire you at any time, even if they do not have a specific reason for doing so. If you sign an employment contract when you start your new job, you might feel like all your problems are solved. An employment contract does give you a lot of legal protection if your employer does not provide the pay or the working conditions that they promised in the contract. It also means, though, that if you leave your job on bad terms with your employer, there is a risk that the employer will take you to court and try to get back some of the money they paid you for your work by suing you for breach of contract. To find out more, contact the Irvine breach of contract lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP.
Irvine Breach of Contract Lawyers
An employment contract outlines the rights and obligations of the employees in an employment relationship. These are some matters that employment contracts commonly address:
- The employee’s job duties
- The employee’s rate of pay
- Benefits the employer will provide, such as health insurance, relocation expenses, and paid time off
- Rules regarding confidential information, such as non-disclosure clauses or a requirement that the employee must only access work-related files on employer-issued devices and must return these devices upon termination of employment
- The length of the contract period or its expiration date
- Procedures for renewing the contract, if it is renewable
- Procedures for resolving disputes related to the contract, such as guidelines for repairing a breach of contract or provisions indicating arbitration or litigation in the California court system
The Irvine employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can help you finalize employment contracts and resolve disputes that arise in connection to them.
What is a Breach of Contract?
A contract is a promise by the employer and the employee to do certain things and to refrain from doing certain other things. A breach of contract is when one of the parties to the contract breaks the promise. When one party stops fulfilling their contractual obligations, they are in breach of contract. Some common sources of breach of contract disputes in employment law are when employees leave their jobs before finishing out their contract period and when employers do not pay employees what they promised to pay according to the provisions of the contract.
If your employer fails to fulfil their contractual obligations, the first thing you should do is reread the employment contract. If you are lucky or had a lot of foresight when you signed the contract, then it contains provisions about repairing a breach. This typically means notifying the breaching party that they are violating the terms of the contract and giving them a set amount of time (usually 30 days) to make measurable progress toward repairing the breach. If the breaching party does not repair the breach by the deadline, then the contract is no longer valid, and you are also released from your contractual obligations toward your employer.
When contractual agreements disintegrate because of a breach by one of the parties, the other party usually suffers financial losses as a result. You can request that your employer pay you damages to compensate you for those losses. You have the right to do this through a breach of contract lawsuit, unless your employment contract contains a mandatory arbitration provision. If you have not yet signed an employment contract, you should request a dispute resolution provision that grants the courts of California jurisdiction over disputes arising from the contract. Although arbitrators are theoretically neutral, employers tend to have to upper hand when resolving contract disputes through arbitration. The Irvine employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can help you negotiate for fair dispute resolution provisions in your contract or work within the provisions of a contract you have already signed.
When Contractual Agreements Fall Apart for Reasons Other Than a Breach of Contract
Sometimes, despite the best efforts of the employer and employee, it is not possible for the parties to abide by the terms of the contract. If one party ceases to perform its duties for one of the following reasons, it is not a breach of contract:
- The company goes out of business (in legal terms, this is called extinction of the subject matter of the contract)
- The employee dies or becomes legally incapacitated due to a serious, long-term illness
- The contract period ends
- Force majeure events such as wars and natural disasters
Of course, the details of each situation make all the difference. If the company went out of business because the employee sold its trade secrets to a competitor, the employer has every reason to sue the employee. If the employee suffered a permanent injury that left them unable to work because of an accident caused by unsafe working conditions, the employee has a case against the employer. Likewise, non-renewal of a renewable employment contract can be a case of discrimination based on race, gender, family status, or another protected characteristic.
If your relationship with your employer has deteriorated and contractual obligations have fallen by the wayside, you should discuss the situation with the Irvine employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP. Your lawyer can help you decide whether breach of contract is at the root of the problem and can help you determine the best course of action.
Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP About Breach of Contract in Irvine
Your employment contract can protect you from financial losses if your employer does not live up to their contractual obligations. HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP represents employees whose employers have failed to abide by the terms of their employment contract. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Irvine, California to set up a consultation.