When you work for an employer in Riverside, California, and sign an employment contract, you will be protected by the contract terms. Employment contracts include protections for employers and should include protections for employees. If you believe your employer has violated one or more terms in your employment contract, it is crucial that you understand your legal options. You may have the right to pursue a breach of contract or wrongful termination claim in a California civil court.
What is an Employment Contract?
An employment contract is a written agreement between an employer and an employee. Most of the time, employers ask employees to sign employment contracts at the beginning of their employment. However, employers may ask employees to sign addendums to their contracts or new contracts after they have already begun employment.
Employers may ask employees to sign a separation or severance contract when employment ends. Well-written employment contracts should cover all job-related details and expectations. The following list includes the type of information that is frequently written into employment contracts:
- The duration of the job
- The employee’s responsibilities as part of the company
- Whether the position is an at-will position
- Any grounds for termination
- Benefits that come from the employment, including healthcare coverage, vacation time, and sick days
- Protection for the employer for trade secrets or client lists that come with the employment position
- Non-compete clauses required by the employer
- The preferred or required methods for resolving disputes between the employee and employer
- Details related to the ownership of any work product the employee creates for the company while they are employed there, such as written documents or digital products
Employment Agreement Violations to Watch Out for in California
Employers regularly violate employment contracts, and sometimes employees may not even realize the violation has occurred. Most employers will act when employees violate their employment contract terms.
Employees have the same rights under contract law to take action against their employer when the employer doesn’t follow through on its responsibilities under the contract. There are thousands of employment contracts and just as many ways employers can violate them. However, some of the most common violations of employment contracts that hurt employees include the following:
- Employers violating terms regarding job termination
- Employers violating guidelines for the employee discipline process
- Employers violating terms of overtime pay
- Employers violating terms governing hazard duty pay
Additionally, California contracts cannot ask workers to skip state-required rest and meal breaks, work for less than California’s minimum wage, or refrain from union activity. Contracts cannot require employees not to join unions or discuss what they make with other coworkers.
Can I Be Fired if I Have a Contract With My Employer?
The answer to this question is it depends on the terms of the contract. Most employees in California do not have contracts, but some have signed a contract with their employers. Some contracts will state the time period during which an employer must continue working for the employer, such as a year.
The contract should state the employee and employer’s rights and responsibilities. The question of whether your employer can fire you when you sign a contract depends on the specific terms of the contract. Many employment contracts will have sections dedicated to ending the working relationship between the employer and the employee.
Pursuing a Wrongful Termination Claim in Riverside
Sometimes a contract will have a “just cause” provision that states that if your employer terminates you for just cause, they can cancel your employment. In California, regardless of whether or not you have an employment contract or you’re considered an at-will employee, all employees are protected under California law from wrongful termination.
In other words, even if you sign an employment contract that says you can be fired at will, an employer is still prohibited from engaging in unlawful harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and other violations of California employment law. You can still pursue a wrongful termination claim against your employer for violating one or more employment laws, even if you signed a contract.
At the end of your employment, your manager or the company’s human resource department may want you to sign another type of contract called a separation agreement or severance agreement. In a separation agreement, they will offer you money. Sometimes they will provide you with significant compensation and employment benefits for one month or up to a year. Before you sign a separation agreement, it is crucial that you discuss the agreement with an attorney. In exchange for compensation and benefits from your employer, you must agree that you will not pursue any legal claims against them.
If you sign a severance agreement, you will be releasing the company from all legal claims you may have. Your legal claim or claim could be far more valuable than the compensation you receive from your severance agreement. For example, your employer may not have paid you according to California wage and our loss. You may be entitled to compensation for all the money you should have been paid but were not by your employer in addition to other damages.
Understanding your rights and the terms of the severance agreement can help you decide whether the compensation is more valuable than your potential claim. An attorney cannot understand what rights you have and what rights you may be giving up if you sign the agreement. If you have already signed a contract that includes severance provisions at the beginning of your employment, you can still seek legal remedies in many cases. Discussing your case with an attorney can help you understand your rights and develop an effective legal strategy.
Discuss Your Case With a Riverside Employment Attorney
HKM Employment Attorneys has a proven track record of successfully holding employers accountable for violating employment contracts. If you know or suspect your employment contract has been violated, do not hesitate to contact HKM Employment Attorneys to schedule an initial case evaluation with one of our Riverside attorneys.