Promises are a dime a dozen in the business world. Sometimes it is hard to tell whether the excessive optimism is all an act or whether people really believe that all of their plans will work out and they will be able to scale their business operations according to the timetable in the slide presentation. Unless you are truly naïve, you know not to make financial plans until an employer or business partner gives you a statement of their promises in writing, and both of you sign it. A written agreement does not guarantee that everything will go according to plan, but it does protect your right to compensation if your employer does not fulfill the promises indicated in the contract. The San Francisco breach of contract lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP can help you review an employment contract before signing it or resolve disputes arising from an existing employment contract.
Breach of Contract Lawyers in San Francisco, California
California is an at-will employment state, and so is almost every other state. This means that, unless you have an employment contract that states otherwise, you are free to quit your job at any time, and, except for legally barred circumstances such as discrimination or retaliation, your employer is free to fire you. Therefore, despite the smiles, the free swag, and the after-work happy hours that may characterize your work environment, you do not really have any job security unless you have an employment contract. Employment contracts are also the place to guarantee you other protections and perks beyond what the law requires, such as bonuses, paid vacation time, and stipends for housing or transportation, among other possible provisions that an employment contract might make.
In employment, as in many other matters, the law allows the parties to a contract, be they individuals or companies, to agree to almost anything they choose unless the provisions violate other laws. (For example, an employment contract where your job is to steal other people’s property would not be legally valid.) If one party does not meet the obligations imposed on it in the contract, this is called a breach of contract, and the other party can sue the breaching party and seek compensation for the financial losses they suffer as a result of the breach.
How Does a Breach of Contract Happen in San Francisco?
An employment contract indicates the rights and obligations of the employer and the employee. If either party does not do what the contract requires, the other party can file a breach of contract lawsuit. If you do not fulfill your job duties as indicated in the contract, your employer has the right to take adverse actions against you, up to and including termination of employment; your employer also has the right to sue you for breach of contract. Likewise, your employer breaches the employment contract if they do not pay you as much as they promised or if they do not provide the working conditions or benefits indicated in the contract.
What to Do if Your Employer Violates the Terms of a Contract in San Francisco
Employers and employees do not go straight to court at the first sign of a disagreement. Employment contracts are not merely a list of salaries, bonuses, and benefits; they also contain several pages of details about legal formalities related to the contract. This includes procedures for resolving disputes arising from the contract. For example, it will list instructions for terminating the contract early in a way that does not count as a breach of contract; these could include giving written notice by a certain deadline and paying certain penalties or forfeiting certain bonuses.
Early termination of the contract by mutual consent is one thing, though, and breach of contract is another. The employment should specify the steps that the parties must take in the event of a breach of contract before the matter can proceed to a lawsuit. For example, if your employer fails to perform its contractual obligations, the contract may state that you must notify your employer of the breach and give your employer a certain amount of time to repair the breach before you take further action.
Employment contracts also contain provisions about dispute resolution, and while these usually appear at the end and register in your mind as the proverbial fine print that everyone skips over or skims instead of reading it carefully, these provisions are among the most important in the contract. For example, the contract might include a mandatory arbitration clause, which states that the parties must resolve their disputes through arbitration instead of in court. If possible, do not agree to mandatory arbitration and ask your employer to modify the dispute resolution clauses before you sign. Despite their legal obligation to be neutral, arbitrators are chosen by employers, and employers are at an advantage over employees in arbitration. Unlike mediators, arbitrators make decisions, but they are not judges, and unless you waive that right by signing a contract with an arbitration clause, you have the right to have a judge resolve your contractual disputes. The ideal dispute resolution clause says something like, “The courts of California have jurisdiction to rule on disputes arising from this contract.”
Is Failure to Fulfill Contractual Obligations Always a Breach of Contract?
Your contract may include a force majeure clause, which is a provision that indicates circumstances where non-performance of contractual obligations by either party does not constitute a breach of contract. These circumstances are called force majeure events; the term “acts of God” also sometimes appears as a synonym for “force majeure events.” A force majeure event is an emergency that affects the general population significantly enough to cause disruption to many economic activities. Wars and natural disasters are examples of force majeure events.
Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP About Breach of Contract in San Francisco
The San Francisco employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP can help you recover damages if your employer has broken the promises it made in your employment contract. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in San Francisco, California, to set up a consultation.