An employment agreement that specifies the length of the employment, limits an employer’s right to discharge the employee within that period of time. Unless an agreement provides otherwise, an employer may terminate an agreement for breach of duty by an employee, neglect of duty, or continued incapacity to perform his or her duty.
It is unusual for an employee in California to have a written contract of employment. These are typically at the highest levels of employment, such as CEO, COO, or CFO. A company will enter into such agreements when there are complex terms and conditions (benchmarks) to be met, benefit programs are lengthy and complicated, or bonuses and commissions are integrated into the employment agreement. (This leads us to a discussion of whether, under California law, commissions and bonuses are considered earned wages. But I digress). An additional reason for a written employment agreement pertains to intellectual property issues (‘IP”) and these can be covenants not to compete, generally illegal in California with certain exceptions, trade secrets, or copyright issues.
If there is, in fact, a written agreement, then generally speaking, “good cause” must be shown for termination under the contract. There can be exceptions however and “at will” language might still be in the written contract. In many agreements, both ”at will” and written contracts, arbitration is stated to be the chosen preference of the parties with regard to dispute resolution. California case law (Armendirez vs. Foundation Psych Health), a 2000 California Supreme Court ruling, has tilted the playing field heavily in favor of employees in order to make arbitration affordable for employees. For example, the corporate employer must pay all costs of arbitration beyond the cost of a Superior Court filing fee. These arbitration provisions may or may not be incorporated into the employee handbook, the employment contract (if any), or most commonly, a stand-alone arbitration agreement.
Our lawyers specializing in breach of contracts are part of California’s largest statewide law firm that’s dedicated to representing employees in disputes against their employers. Stephen Danz & Associates, based in Los Angeles, California, protects clients from retaliation, discrimination, and harassment involving dismissal, demotion, or denial of accommodation based on age, race, sex, religion, color, sexual orientation, marital status, association, physical or mental disability, or other legally protected classifications. Additionally, we represent employees if they have not been paid the proper wages including overtime or minimum wage or been given the proper meal breaks. If you believe that your employment contract has been breached, contact one of our Breach of Contract Lawyers in California to set up your free consultation to discuss this matter. We take cases on a contingency basis and collect no attorney fees unless we win your case.