Employment Contracts in California
When an employer hires an employee, an employment contract is established. It doesn’t necessarily need to be written to be enforceable; it can be verbal or even implied by actions and statements made by the employer or employee.
For example, promises of future job security can hold up in a wrongful termination lawsuit. As long as the employment agreement doesn’t violate any laws outside the contract, it will be legally binding.
Depending on the position you are hired for, your employer may not require you to sign a contract.
Typically, contracts are used when:
- The employee will hold an influential position
- The employee will have access to trade secrets or proprietary information
- Hiring the employee will be costly upfront
Employment contracts can include:
- Duration of employment and renewal process
- Just cause provisions specifying how you can be terminated
- Base salary, bonuses, and commission
- Schedule and responsibilities of the employee
- Confidentiality agreement
- Non-compete clause
- Intellectual property agreement
Both parties can modify the employment contract in agreement. If, at any point, one of the parties isn’t acting according to the terms agreed to in the contract, that party is in breach of contract. If the other party leaves the employment relationship after the agreement has been breached, it is said to be with good cause.
If an employer fires an employee who is not in breach of the contract, however, it can be considered wrongful termination, and thus, a legal issue and grounds for employment litigation.
Independent contractors are usually asked to sign an agreement indicating that they are not entering into an employment relationship and will not be considered employees for tax purposes or subject to labor and employment law.
When Should You Ask for an Employment Contract?
Aside from public sector and union employees, most employees in California are considered to be at-will. That means that either the employer or employee may terminate the relationship at any time with or without cause. So, if you want your employment to last for a specific term or you want to be protected from being fired without cause, you’ll need an employee contract. Just keep in mind that contracts with these provisions are typically reserved for executives.
When Should an Employee Hire Legal Representation?
If your employer denies benefits granted to you in your employment contract, terminates the employment relationship illegally, or has otherwise violated federal or California law, you may want to seek legal advice from a contract attorney.
Employment lawyers can assist with any of the following employment issues:
- Wrongful termination
- Sexual harassment
- Discrimination in the workplace
- Breach of contracts
- Whistleblower protection
The litigation attorneys at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP have years of experience providing legal services to employees. Our employment law firm will advocate for you in negotiations with your employer and help you file a contract lawsuit if necessary.
Call us today for a consultation, or visit our law office in San Diego to get help with your legal needs. We work with clients in San Diego County and the surrounding areas of Southern California.