How Can You Get Compensation for a Breach of Contract?
Having your employer breach your employment contract can be both frustrating and cost you financially. To help compensate for your employer’s actions, you could potentially be awarded damages. Damages is simply the legal term that refers to monetary compensation. Understanding the various types of damages you can sue for is necessary so that lawyers that handle wrongful termination in Los Angeles can easily discuss what damages you’re entitled to.
Understanding Employment Contracts
Your Los Angeles employment lawyer will define an employment contract as a legal agreement between you and your employer. This contract addresses your terms of employment, including specifics like your annual wages. Most employment contracts are in written form. However, some may be oral agreements.
This oral or written contract will be highly unique to your employment situation. While there are many different areas that can be covered, such as wages and benefits, all of the agreements in your contract must abide by federal, state, and local employment laws. For example, your employer cannot have you agree to earning below minimum wage or toss out your right to unemployment.
A Breach Of Contract
Lawyers will define a breach of contract as one party not meeting their contractual obligations. For example, let’s say that your employment contract states that you will not be let go for at least three full years without good cause. Two years into your employment, you’re let go so that your boss can hire their brother-in-law. Since there is no good cause for your termination, your employer breached your employment contract.
We can’t discuss employment contracts without touching on the topic of at-will employment. This employment contract agreement stipulation means that both you and your employer agree that you may be fired or quit at any time. In regards to termination, your employer will have to have a legal cause as the law requires. These agreements tend to specify other things like your compensation, work location, and schedule.
An at-will employment agreement is viewed as different than other contracts in a judge’s eyes. For example, it’s not likely that a judge will rule that your employer breached your contract if they reduce your wages. This is because your at-will employment allows your employer to fire you at any time. They can fire you and rehire you at a lower rate.
If you don’t agree to an at-will employment contract, then any change in your employment would be considered a breach of contract. For example, let’s say your employer agreed to pay you $50,000 per year in your employment contract. If they only pay you $40,000, then they’re breaching your employment contract according to any unjust termination at work lawyer Los Angeles.
Collecting Damages For Breach Of Contract
You’ll be entitled to what your employment specified. In the example above, your employer would still be on the hook for paying you that additional $10,000 that was stated in your employment contract. However, some scenarios aren’t this easy to determine.
Your lawyers will reveal that contractual breaches over things like termination can be trickier to handle. In most cases, a judge isn’t going to order your former employer to rehire you for the remainder of your contractual period. Rather, they will order your employer to pay you for any missed income for the contractual period that you agreed to.
A Look At Expectation Damages
Expectation damages are simply defined as an amount equal to what the employee expected for their contract. A good example of this is the lack of your employer paying you what they promised on an annual basis. For example, your contract states you’ll make $40,000 per year, and your employer only pays you $30,000. They still legally own you $10,000.
However, expectation damages aren’t always this easy. It’s your legal duty to mitigate financial damages caused by a breach of contract. An easier way to understand this necessity is by looking at a prime example. Let’s say that John had a five-year contract with his employer. Three years into his employment, a change in upper management resulted in his firing for no good cause.
While John is initially entitled to the next two years of his salary, he has a legal duty to mitigate the damages caused by his employer’s breach of his employment contract. John must attempt to get another job. The amount that his employer will owe him for the breach of contract will be his remaining wages for the five-year employment period minus whatever John’s income is for those two years at his new job.
A meeting with your lawyer will identify whether or not your employment contract includes liquidated damages. This provision can be added to any employment contract and specifies a certain amount of money that either party must pay in the event that they breach the employment contract. This type of contract provision is not commonly used unless it’s difficult to put a monetary value on what the employee lost.
Punitive And Compensatory Damages
Lawyers will advise you that contract cases don’t allow you to recover any damages for pain and suffering. You’re also not entitled to any sort of punitive damages for the breach of contract. Punitive damages are those that are meant to punish an employer for egregious behavior. We’re touching on this area because punitive and compensatory damages are available for other types of employment cases, such as discrimination.
Legal representation may be costly. Most will charge around 10 percent of the total case winnings. However, you may be able to recover these fees in the event that you have a specific provision in your contract. This provision must state that the party responsible for the breach of contract is responsible for paying the other party’s legal fees. If this provision is not currently in your contract, your lawyer can’t hold your employer responsible for your legal fees.
Getting suddenly let go from a position is a stressful and upsetting situation experienced by many. Mann & Elias help clients get the money they deserve from their former employers. If you’ve been let go from a company in a way that’s outside your contract, contact our law firm today.