Breach of Employment Contract Attorneys
Our business litigation attorneys specialize in litigating breach of employment contracts. In these types of cases, the plaintiff is required to prove:
- The employer and the employee entered into an employment relationship;
- The employer represented by words or conduct that the employee would not discharged absent good cause;
- The employee substantially performed all of the work required to carry out under the employment agreement;
- The employer fired the employee without good cause; and
- The employee suffered harm as a result of the being terminated from employment.
It is important to note that in employment agreement can be written, partly written, oral or created by conduct. The term good cause mans “a fair cause or reason that is regulated by the good faith of the employer.” There is no bright line rule as to what constitutes a good case and whether or not good cause exists, as this is determined on case by case basis.
Affirmative Defenses to Breach of Contract Claims in California
While the facts of every breach of contract claim are unique, defenses to a breach of contract action are generally based on one or more of the following affirmative defenses:
1. Economic Duress
This defense is raised when one party uses wrongful act or threat of force to compel another to enter into a contract and the reluctant party has no reasonable alternative but to consent to the contract. This defense is often raised in cases where parties have entered into a valid contract and one party uses coercive measures to force the other party to agree to modify the original contract.
2. Illegal Subject Matter
An agreement to do something in violation of the law is unenforceable. For example, one party cannot sue another for breach of a contract for failing to provide illegal drugs after receiving payment for said illegal drugs.
3. Undue Influence
This occurs where one takes unfair advantage of another’s weakness of mind or distressful situation to induce him/her into consenting to a contract or wrongfully uses his/her relationship of trust and confidence to force another into consenting to a contract.
Use of wrongful conduct (physical force or mental pressure) to force another into consenting to a contract and the party claiming duress did not have free will to withhold consent.
5. Against Public Policy (Unconscionability)
This defense is often raised in cases where one party lacks negotiating power and the terms of a contract are excessively or unreasonably beneficial to other party such that it shocks the consciousness of a reasonable person.
Misrepresentation of an important/material fact by one party in order to persuade the other to agree to the contract and the other party reasonably relied on the misrepresentation in giving his/her consent.
7. Mistake of Fact
Defendant argues that he/she was mistaken about a material fact and the plaintiff knew that defendant was mistaken and used that mistake to take advantage of the defendant. However, to successfully use this defense, defendant must also establish that his/her mistake was not a result of “neglect of a legal duty” i.e., could not have been discovered by undertaking a reasonable inquiry.
8. Statute of Limitations
This defense is raised when the lawsuit is not filed within the time prescribed by law.
This defense is raised in circumstances where one party claims that following the execution of the original contract, both parties substituted (either by writing, words or conduct) a new agreement with the express intent to replace the original contract.
10. Statute of Frauds
Although oral contracts are valid and enforceable in California, certain contracts must be in writing: contracts involving sales of real estate; sale of goods worth more than $500.00; contracts to pay debt of another; leases for more than one year; contracts that cannot be performed within one year and contracts for marriage.
11. Lack of Consideration
Consideration refers to promising to do something that you are not obligated to do or refraining from doing something that you have a legal right to do. Consideration must be mutual. This generally requires each party to give up something as such, a promise to provide a gift does not qualify as a valid contract even if it is in writing. Thus, if consideration is not mutual, the contact is not enforceable.
Remedies for Breach of Contract in California
- Consequential Damages: Money damages that will compensate the plaintiff for all reasonably foreseeable damages he/she has suffered as a result of the breach.
- Special Damages: Money damages that will compensate the plaintiff for special, unique or non- foreseeable losses caused by the breach. Special damages are recoverable only if the breaching party was adequately advised that in the event of the breach, the non-breaching party would suffer some particular types of damages.
- Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are not available in breach of contract action.
- Liquidated Damages: Amount of damages that are agreed to and specified in the contract for the non- breaching party to collect in the event of a breach of contract. The specific amount cannot be designed to penalize the breaching party. They must be based on approximate damages that would be suffered by a party in the event of a breach of a contract.
- Recession: Cancellation of the contract that frees the non-breaching party from carrying out his/her obligations under the contract. Recession restores the parties to pre- contract formation position.
- Reformation: Equitable remedy whereby the court will rewrite certain terms of the written contract in order to reflect the parties true intentions.
- Restitution: Restitution is designed to provide the plaintiff an amount of money that equals the value of the benefit conferred on the defendant.
- Injunctive Relief: A court order that directs the breaching party to refrain from doing a specific act.
- Specific Performance: A court order that directs the breaching party to perform his/her obligations under the contract.
Handling Breach of Employment Contract Claims in Southern California
At the law office of Fisher & Talwar, we have an extensive background handling breach of employment contracts. Our firm’s business litigation lawyers have extensive experience in litigating matters involving breach of contract.
Contact our law firm online or call 213-891-0777 to schedule a free initial consultation. We are available to meet with you between 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Evening and weekend consultations are available by appointment. Se habla español.