Breach of Contract
In Pennsylvania, many employees work under so-called at-will conditions. This means that either party may terminate the relationship at any time, and for any reason, so long as no state or federal laws are violated by the termination. There are exceptions to the at-will doctrine, which would typically be outlined in the employment contract.
An employment contract addresses issues such as job title and duties, length of employment, and compensation and benefits. It may also outline how the contract can be terminated and restrictions on future employment, known as restrictive covenants or non-compete agreements. A breach of contract occurs when one of the parties to the contract does not meet the terms set forth in the contract. An experienced employment lawyer can be indispensable in obtaining favorable employment terms when signing a new contract, or in recovering compensation when a contract has been breached.
Establishing Breach of Contract
Under Pennsylvania law, a those who wish to file a breach of conflict claim must be able to prove the following:
- The existence of a valid contract – Oral agreements can be binding, but their existence is generally very difficult to prove. The contract must show the specific duties and responsibilities of the employee and the time period of employment, as well as termination causes and procedures. Otherwise the employee may be found to have at-will status in Pennsylvania.
- There was breach of duty imposed by the contract.
- Damages occurred because of the breach. The amount of damages awarded will be equal to the wages lost or other monetary amounts lost due to the breach of contract. In breach of contract cases, damages for emotional distress are not awarded.
In Pennsylvania, an employment contract is generally recognized as valid when it is clear that there was intent by both parties to be bound by the terms of the contract. Additionally, the terms of the contract must be sufficiently definite so as to be enforceable. Finally, the agreement should be supported by consideration.
The experience of a qualified Alleghany County employment lawyer can prove invaluable when negotiating a new employment contract. Both employers and employees will want the terms of employment defined in the explicit language so to avoid any possibility of a wrongful termination suit should either party seek to terminate the relationship down the road. Likewise, new employees are encouraged to have an employment attorney read through a new contract that has been given to them to sign so that they understand what they are signing, including any fine print.
Common Causes of Action for a Breach of Contract Claim
- The employee failed to perform duties he or she is responsible for as stated in the contract.
- The employer failed to provide compensation to the employee as agreed upon in the contract.
- The employer terminated the employee on grounds not included in the contract.
- The employer changing the terms of the contract.
Employers should be aware that despite the use of disclaimers, some employee handbooks can be interpreted as enforceable contracts. It is highly advisable to seek counsel from an experienced employment lawyer when issuing employee handbooks.
Pittsburgh Employment Lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. Successfully Handle Breach of Contract Claims
For any matter pertaining to employment law and breach of contract you can count on the experienced Pittsburgh employment lawyers at AlpernSchubert P.C. We will work tirelessly to resolve your legal matter quickly and reasonably. Call 412-765-1888 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation about your case. We represent clients in Pittsburgh, Washington, and New Castle as well as those in Allegheny County, Washington County, and Lawrence County.