Breach of employment agreement

Most employees in New York are hired “at-will,” meaning they can be fired at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all. However, not all employees are deemed “at-will” and one exception to the “at-will” classification are those employees hired pursuant to an employment contract.

Generally, employment contracts dictate the terms, conditions and duration of employment and protect the interests of both parties. For example, your employment contract may stipulate that all disagreements must be settled by arbitration or that you may only be terminated for cause. Naturally, such a provision alters your “at-will” employment status because you may no longer be terminated for any reason or no reason at all. It is also possible that a document, such as your employee handbook, grants you rights that your employer must abide by even if the document is not considered an employment contract. Additionally, oral promises may sometimes be grounds for the creation of employee rights, violation of which may lead to a claim for breach of an employment agreement.

Even employees who are hired pursuant to an employment agreement may be the victims of an adverse employment action. While it is not unlawful to take certain actions against these employees, any action taken in contravention of the terms and conditions of their employment agreement, a provision in their employee handbook or an oral promise may give rise to a claim for breach of an employment contract.

If you have been terminated without cause in contravention of the terms of your employment agreement, you may be entitled to damages equal to your total earnings under the contract, which includes both your salary and benefits. However, you are required to act diligently to mitigate your damages. In other words, you have the responsibility to obtain alternative employment and may be entitled to the difference in pay between your old job and new job as damages.

If you have been hired pursuant to an employment agreement, the New York employment contract lawyers at Fitapelli & Schaffer advise you to read over your contract and familiarize yourself with your employee rights. If you feel that any of the terms or conditions of your employment have been violated, our lawyers are prepared to advise you regarding the appropriate course of action to take against your employer.