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Employer Breach of Contract: How to Fight for Your Rights In Employment Disputes

If jobs were fun, they wouldn’t be called work. Very few people go to their jobs every day for the love of what they do. Rather, they go to work to earn the money they need to maintain their lifestyle. They offer their time and effort to their employer in exchange for a paycheck and benefits.

Of course, unscrupulous companies can attempt to take advantage of their employees by accepting their labor without fulfilling their end of the bargain. That’s why employment contracts are so important. Your employment agreement doesn’t just outline what you’re expected to do for your workplace; it also explains your employer’s responsibilities to you.

If your employer doesn’t fulfill their contractual obligations, then you have the right to take them to court. Keep reading to learn what constitutes a breach of employment contract and how you can fight back.

The Three Most Common Types of Employer Contract Breaches

The basic definition of a contract breach is the failure to fulfill elements of a contract. When your employer doesn’t live up to the promises they made in your employment contract, they are likely in breach of contract. Of course, some types of contract breaches are more common than others. If you believe your employer is breaking your agreement, you’re likely worried about one of the three following situations.

1. Wrongful Termination

California is an at-will employment state. This means that both employers and workers can usually end the working relationship at any time for no reason. However, there are a few exceptions to this.

First, employers can’t fire someone for being part of a protected class. They can’t fire you for your sex, race, religion, age, or disabilities. If they do, it’s considered wrongful termination, and you can pursue legal remedies.

Second, some agreements can supersede at-will employment. If you have a contract that specifies how and when your employer can end your job, that takes precedence. More importantly, if you have a contract like that and your employer doesn’t follow it upon firing you, then you’ve been wrongfully terminated.

2. Failure to Remit Wages

Another common and upsetting breach of contract occurs when your employer doesn’t pay you. Your agreement should include specific terms about how much and when you’re supposed to be paid. The company is legally obligated to follow those terms until you are no longer employed there.

That means that there are a few ways the company can breach the contract. They can fail to pay you at all, which is a significant and obvious problem. Less apparent issues include underpaying you, paying you for fewer hours than you worked, and paying you late. If your workplace does any of these things, you can take legal action to get the money you’re owed.

3. Denial of Benefits

Last but not least, your company must also fulfill its contractual promises regarding benefits. This includes sick leave, vacation days, health insurance, and any other benefits listed in your contract.

Your employer may deny these in several ways. They can simply refuse to provide these benefits, but most companies understand that this is illegal. Instead, they may pressure you to not take sick leave or vacation days or make it extremely difficult to access your benefits. For example, if you need to request vacation days in advance, your requests may be repeatedly denied until you lose those days at the end of the year. Again, if you can’t resolve this breach by working with your employer, you can work with a lawyer to fight back.

What to Do If Your Employer Breaches Your Contract

If your employer has breached your contract, you need to take action.

Collect evidence of the breach. Before you do anything, you should collect evidence of how your employer broke your agreement. You should gather relevant documentation, such as a physical copy of your contract, pay stubs, and documentation of the hours you worked.

You should also collect as much information as you can about why the breach took place. For example, if you’ve been wrongfully terminated, you should save emails and written notices about your firing. Any written details and explanations can be used as evidence in negotiations and court cases. Store all of this evidence outside of your workplace to ensure it can’t be deleted or changed.

Talk to your HR department. Next, reach out to the human resources department at your job. This is the department dedicated to maintaining positive relationships between the company and its employees. Explain your problem and why you believe it’s a breach of contract. Ideally, you’ll be able to work with the department to resolve the issue without the matter going any further.

Unfortunately, some HR departments won’t fix the problem, or they’ll deny that it’s a problem at all. In this case, have them provide their refusal and reasoning in writing. Add this to the rest of your documents, as it shows that you did your due diligence and tried to rectify the problem outside of the legal system.

Get an attorney. If you’re still facing the problem, get in touch with a lawyer. Having legal representation can make all the difference to your case. Simply having an attorney on your side can be enough to convince your employer to work with you. Otherwise, your lawyer can help you navigate arbitration, mediation, or a court case to make sure your company lives up to the promises it made when it hired you.

Make Sure You’re Paid What You’re Owed

You put time and effort into your job every week. You deserve to be compensated appropriately for that time. You also deserve to keep your job instead of facing wrongful termination. If your employer has breached your contract in any way, you should take action immediately.

You can start by reaching out to an experienced employment contract attorney to discuss your case. They can help you understand how your agreement works, what your options are, and how you can move forward. Get started today by scheduling your consultation.

This is attorney advertising. These posts are written on behalf of Law Offices of Todd M. Friedman, P.C. and are intended solely as informational content. These blogs in no way provide specific or actionable legal advice, nor does your use of or engagement with this site establish any attorney-client relationship. Please read the disclaimer