California Breach of Employment Contract

california breach of employment contractContact a California breach of employment contract attorney if you feel the terms of your employment contract are not being honored. Contracts are entered into in the workplace every day. While many employees here in California are considered to be “at will” employees who can be terminated without cause, certain employees do have contracts that specify a particular time frame for work, and that may or may not have options for extensions. If you feel the terms of your contract are not being honored, you may wish to consult with an attorney experienced in such matters to determine how to proceed.

California Breach of Employment Contract Defined

What constitutes a California breach of employment contact? Several elements must exist:

  • You and one or more parties must have entered into a contract;
  • You substantially met the requirements set forth in the contract;
  • If you did not complete all the requirements, you were reasonably excused from them;
  • Your employer did not meet his or her requirements set forth in the contract, or;
  • Your employer acted in a way that was prohibited within the contract;
  • You experienced some harm;
  • The harm was essentially due to the breach of contract.

What is a Material Breach?

A material breach is one that is so significant that it results in substantial damage, or it validates your reason for failing to fulfill your contractual obligations. For instance, let us say you contracted with an employer to redesign a web page and develop advertising materials over the course of one year. You were expecting to be paid monthly, but after three months you had yet to see a paycheck, or worse, you were let go. You are clearly justified in discontinuing your work because the failure to pay you as agreed for the established time period was a material breach.

What is a Non-Material Breach?

On the other hand, a non-material breach of contract generally involves only minor damage that would not entitle the other party to forgo their responsibilities of the contract. For instance, let us say you had agreed to redesign the web page and develop advertising materials by January 1st.  Although you completed most of the job, the finished advertising materials were not available until January 4th. While you did fail to meet the terms of the contract, the damages to your employer are presumably minimal under the circumstances. Ergo, there is no justifiable reason for your wages to be withheld.

California Breach of Employment Contract – Damages

The types of damages recoverable include general damages and consequential damages.

  • General damages are those that come directly out of the breach, such as wages for the job that was done.
  • Consequential damages go beyond what might be expected due to the employment contract breach.  For example, if the breach led to additional unforeseeable costs, they would be consequential damages.

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I Want to Sue my Business Partner for Breach of Contract

Contract BreachBreach of contract options. Let’s say you and some acquaintances are shooting the breeze about your ideas for a new business venture. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, you all agree that doing business together and sharing in the profits and losses is a great idea. This seems like a great opportunity for each of you to contribute your talents to a new enterprise. You come up with the basic tenets of the arrangement, and before you know it, you are all in business together. Everything is coming up roses, until you suspect that one person is in breach of contract. What are your options now? In a situation this complex, an experienced employment attorney could help.


Oftentimes a good mediator or arbitrator can walk you and your partner(s) through any disputes you may have. Hopefully you have a written agreement, which will make it easier to hold everyone’s feet to the fire. Even if you do not, be aware that litigation will tend to enflame an adversarial relationship, which will make working together difficult if all partners wind up staying connected to the business.


When you wrote up your initial agreement, if you included an expulsion clause, you may now be able to expel the offending partner for breach. Otherwise, expulsion is not possible, unless you dissolve the partnership altogether.

In the event you do have that expulsion clause, and you choose to exercise it, be sure your actions are in response to a serious breach of your contract; otherwise you may be the target of a lawsuit yourself.

In either case, a knowledgeable employment attorney can advise you of the pitfalls and legal requirements you will encounter.

Suing for Breach of Contract

If you can not or are not willing to expel the offending partner, you may still have a legal option to sue if financial harm has come about due to your partner’s actions. There are several situations that might justify this course of action:

  • A partner walked away from the business with not justifiable reason, breaking an agreement for participation for a specific time-period;
  • A partner misappropriated assets;
  • A partner caused the business to lose inventory or clients.

Breach of Contract Statute of Limitations

You also need to be aware of time restraints when it comes to suing a business partner.  If you have only a verbal agreement, the statute of limitations for filing suit is two years from the date of the alleged breach. When a written contract exists, the statute is four years from the breach. [Read more…]

Employment Breach of Contract in California

breach of contractEmployment breach of contract in California. Contracts are drafted, negotiated, and signed every day in this country.  Employment contracts in California are sometimes designed to cover a precise time period, with or without options to renew the contract at a particular point. In other situations, teams are involved in collective bargaining for entire groups. What happens when one party does not live up to his or her end of the bargain? That is precisely when having an experienced contract law attorney in your court can make a huge difference.

What is Meant by Breach of Contract?

When one party fails to live up to a legally enforceable contract, or promise, it is breach of contract. In California labor law, an employee handbook or other policy statements might be considered contracts, in addition to more formal documents drawn up between particular parties.  In the case of employee handbooks and written policies, the courts generally have found that statements within them are express promises. Even though California is a right to work state, these express promises must be adhered to.

Implied promises might be based on past history or length of service. It is the type of promise most California employers have with employees who have not negotiated individual contracts.

In determining wrongful discharge, the California Supreme Court ruled that employers must act in good faith when firing a contracted employee. The case of Cotran v. Rollins Hudig Hall International, Inc., 948 P.2d 412 (Cal. 1998) involved an employee who was terminated on the grounds of sexual harassment. Even though the employee denied the accusations, it was found that since the employer had acted based on a true and sincere belief that the harassment had occurred, the termination was not a breach of contract. The foundation for the court’s decision revolved around the idea that an implied contract, or promise, existed between the parties, wherein the employer’s “reasonable” belief in a good cause for termination was sufficient for termination procedures to take place.

In contrast, contracts obtained through collective bargaining are held to a different standard.  Here, employees may not be terminated without proof of guilt. There are seven tests for just cause in due process hearings for these types of employees:

  • The employee must be afforded adequate notification of rules and sufficient warning that the employer is aware of a problem;
  • The issue must be one defined as real by a reasonable person;
  • There must be a complete investigation;
  • The investigation must be impartial and objective;
  • There must be conclusive proof of an infraction;
  • Rules and consequences must be administered uniformly,
  • The discipline or consequences must be reasonable.

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The information on this website should not be considered to be legal advice, nor construed to be the formation of any manner of attorney client relationship. Prior to taking any form of legal action, please consult with an attorney experienced in the appropriate area of law germane to your situation. Case results and testimonials presented on or any of its related websites are germane to the facts present for each individual case and is not a promise of similar outcomes for any other cases. This website is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of California.