In some employment situations, work responsibilities and remuneration requirements are documented in an employment contract. Employment contracts are commonly used to hire and retain executives and professionals. They may also be used to establish business relationships with temporary employees, contractors, and subcontractors.
Once executed, an employment contract in Florida is legally binding. Both written and oral employment contracts are enforceable under Florida law.
An employer who does not abide by the terms of an employment contract may be sued for breach of contract and compelled by the courts to pay damages to the employee harmed.
Can I Sue My Employer for Breach of Contract?
Yes, you can, if you are working under an employment contract in Florida and your employer is not living up to its end of the agreement, a qualified employment attorney can protect your rights. An experienced Tallahassee employment law attorney at Cruz Law Firm can review your employment contract and help you understand your legal options.
We can pursue a breach of employment contract lawsuit on your behalf if a fair resolution cannot be reached through negotiation.
Let us put our experience to work for you if your employer is ignoring their contractual obligations to you. At Cruz Law Firm, P.A., we focus on protecting our clients’ rights and pursuing the compensation they deserve when they have been treated unfairly. Talk to a Tallahassee employment lawyer at Cruz Law today about a potential employer breach of contract claim.
Common Reasons for Breach of Employment Contracts
Failure of either party to fulfill one or more terms of employment as set out in an employment contract constitutes a breach of contract.
Such a breach might be the employer’s failure to pay compensation as stated in the contract, denying an employee benefits the contract says they are entitled to, or failure to fulfill any other contract requirements.
Types and Examples of Breach of Contract
Sometimes, a violation of a contract is referred to as a material breach or minor breach. These and other terms you may hear in a contract dispute include:
Material breach: Delivering something different from what was promised in the agreement. A material breach impacts the essence of the contract, rendering the agreement irreparably broken. For example, if a furniture store owner offered employees discounts on merchandise from the store in lieu of wages as stated in the employment contract, this would be a material breach of contract.
Minor breach: Fulfilling a term of the employment contract late. If the employment contract says a new employee qualifies for a pay raise or certain benefits after a 90-day probation period, but the adjustments do not occur until later, this may be a minor breach.
Actual breach: When one party refuses to fulfill one or more terms of the contract. If an employment contract includes the provision of health insurance, but the employer later says the company will not be able to provide this benefit, this is an actual breach of contract.
Anticipatory breach: When one party to the contract states ahead of time that they will not fulfill one or more terms of the contract. Telling employees that the company will discontinue matching contributions to employees’ retirement funds as of this year’s contribution date would be considered an anticipatory breach of contract — until it happened.
Understanding Florida Employment Contracts
An employee’s job responsibilities, work hours, starting salary, time off, and, in many cases, benefits such as health and life insurance and employer contributions to retirement plans are known as their terms of employment. In some jobs, the terms of employment may include confidentiality agreements and non-compete clauses. Many organizations require employees and employers to sign written contracts that spell out the terms of employment.
Under Florida labor laws, for an employment contract to be valid, it must establish:
- Clear intent — that the parties intended to be bound by the terms of the contract.
- Definite terms — the contract’s requirements are clear enough to be enforced.
- Consideration —something of value promised by one party to the other in exchange for something of value — money and benefits promised for adequate performance of job duties.
Florida is an at-will employment state, meaning an employer may change the terms of employment or terminate an employment agreement at any time for any reason that is not illegal, such as discrimination against a protected class. An employment contract may put restrictions on the employer, such as having to show cause for termination, but typically, at-will employment allows an employer to fire an employee even when no terms of employment have been violated.
Employees who work under labor union agreements have set contracts and can’t be terminated at will.
Non-union workers with skills in high demand or in executive positions may negotiate their terms of employment. Others may negotiate a starting salary or time off but typically accept additional terms as the employer presents them.
Your Legal Rights and Pre-Litigation Steps in an Employment Contract Breach
If an employer in Florida has materially violated the terms of an employment contract, the affected employee has a right to sue for compensation. In order to sue, Florida law requires that a breach of contract be material. A plaintiff would also have to prove harm caused by the employer’s failure to uphold the agreement.
Before filing a lawsuit or going to court, it is always better to try to work things out with an employer who is not acting as they should. Cruz Law has a solid reputation across the Florida Panhandle after having prevailed in many of Florida’s most challenging employment-related lawsuits. A letter from one of our attorneys may initiate a resolution to the issue.
Many employment contracts require mediation or arbitration before pursuing litigation when there are disputes that cannot be resolved internally. Our firm can assist you with mediation or arbitration by helping you prepare and present your case and ensuring your rights are upheld during these proceedings.
In mediation, an independent third party listens to each party and works to facilitate a discussion that leads to compromise. In arbitration, an independent third party hears from each party and renders an opinion, which may be binding or nonbinding, according to prior agreement, such as an employment contract. Arbitration is like a legal hearing, with each side presenting evidence and witnesses.
If alternative dispute resolution is not successful, we can file a lawsuit in your name, asking the court to find your employer in breach of your employment contract and to award you damages. In a breach of contract claim, the plaintiff may be awarded:
- Compensatory damages, compensation for losses that occurred as a direct result of the breach
- Consequential damages, compensation for losses suffered because of steps you had to take to make up for the breach
- Liquidated damages, compensation previously established through a clause in the contract as payment one party would pay the other for a breach of contract.
How Cruz Law Firm, P.A., Can Assist You in Proving a Breach of an Employment Contract
Cruz Law can help you collect, review, and make sense of a variety of documents necessary to prove an employer’s breach of contract. The elements required to establish such proof include:
- A valid employment contract existed — with intent, clear employment terms, and consideration
- A breach of one or more terms of the employment contract occurred
- You upheld your end of the contract (performed your job adequately)
- You suffered harm because of your employer’s failure to honor the terms of the employment contract.
Breach of employment contract cases are proven based on such evidence as:
- Employment contracts
- Pay stubs
- Employee performance appraisals
- Employer memos, email
- Witness testimony.
Cruz Law can prepare and file a breach of employment contract lawsuit on your behalf and prepare a solid case to take to trial. Our objective is maximum compensation and justice for you, whether by reaching a settlement with your employer or advocating for you in a Florida courtroom.
Contact a Tallahassee Breach of Employment Contract Lawyer
It can be difficult to stand up to your employer when they are treating you unfairly. But if your employer has disregarded material terms of your employment agreement, a breach of employment contract attorney with the Cruz Law Firm is ready to stand up for your rights. We can review your employment agreement and other documents to evaluate your claim and options for pursuing compensation for the harm your employer has caused you.
The Cruz Law Firm is committed to providing each client with dedicated, effective legal representation and personalized service, no matter how complex the case. Our attorneys represent hard-working people like you in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and across the Florida Panhandle. Contact a Tallahassee breach of employment contract attorney with our law firm today.