Discovering that your employer has failed to uphold the terms of your employment contract can be unsettling and confusing. As an employee, knowing what to do if your employer breaches your contract is crucial so you can take appropriate steps to protect your rights and interests. Below is some basic information to get you started as you navigate this complex legal issue.
Understand What Constitutes a Breach of Contract
A breach of contract occurs when one party, in this context, your employer, fails to fulfill their end of the bargain as outlined in the employment agreement. This could range from failing to pay the agreed-upon salary to not providing the duties or position promised.
The first step in addressing the breach is to thoroughly review your contract to understand the specific terms that your employer violated. This understanding is the foundation of any action you decide to take and serves as the bedrock for asserting your rights.
Know What Damages You Can Claim
As a victim of a contract breach, you have the right to seek damages. Essentially, damages are calculated in terms of the losses you’ve incurred because of the breach, and they fall into three categories: expectation, liquidated, and compensatory or punitive damages. They might include lost wages from the promised salary, the opportunity cost of turning down other employment, or even emotional distress related to the breach. Consulting with a legal professional who specializes in employment law can help you understand the full extent of damages you might be entitled to claim.
Factor in Whether You’re Still at the Company
Your current employment status can impact the strategy you adopt in response to a breach of contract. If you’re still with the company, you might be more inclined to seek a resolution that doesn’t involve leaving your job, such as negotiation or mediation. However, if the breach is severe enough to undermine your trust in your employer or spoil the working environment, it might be in your best interest to part ways with the company. Many people feel like the latter isn’t an option because they worry whether it’s possible to sue an employer after quitting. Fortunately, the short answer is yes—you can sue after you’ve quit for several case types, including breaches of contract.
Check Your State-Specific Laws
Employment laws can vary significantly from one state to another, and these differences can affect how you should react to a contract breach. For instance, some states may offer additional protection under local laws that could work in your favor. Conversely, some may have certain limitations that you need to be aware of. Due diligence in terms of state-specific laws is a crucial step in formulating a plan of action.
In navigating what to do if your employer breaches your contract, remember that the path forward involves understanding the breach, assessing the damages, considering your employment situation, and checking state laws. Each step can empower you to make informed decisions about how to proceed, ensuring that you emerge from this challenging situation in the strongest position possible.