What Is a Breach of an Employment Contract?
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as is the case in most states, employment is “at will” unless you have an employment contract with your employer. As an “at will” employee, your employer can fire you at any time and for any reason, as long as the reason for your termination is not discriminatory in nature. Likewise, an employee may quit his/her job at any time and for any reason if he/she is an “at will” employee. If, however, you have an employment contract with your employer, the employer-employee relationship is governed by the terms of the employment contract. As an employee working under an employment contract, you need to understand what constitutes a breach of contract in an employment contract.
Generally speaking, an employment contract is a written contract between the parties; however, an oral employment contract can be enforceable in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania law will recognize an employment contract, written or oral, if the following elements are met:
- The parties manifest a clear intent to be bound by the terms of the contract
- The terms are sufficiently definite to be enforced
- The agreement is supported by consideration
A breach of contract means that a party to the contract has failed to abide by the terms of the contract. Examples of common breaches in an employment contract include things such as the employer failing to compensate the employee according to the terms of the contract or the employee failing to perform the duties agreed upon in the contract. Under Pennsylvania law, for an employee to be successful in a claim for a breach of an employment contract, the employee must prove the following elements:
- The existence of a valid and binding employment contract, meaning the employee must prove the terms listed above
- The employee having complied with the contract by performing the employee’s own obligations under the contract
- The employer’s breach of a duty imposed by the contract
- The employee having sustained damages as a result of the breach
All too often, an employee will fail to read the terms of an employment contract well prior to accepting a job offer, only to find that those terms are disproportionately advantageous to the employer when an issue comes up down the road. Whether you are a prospective employee considering a job offer that involves an employment contract or a current employee whose employer has breached your employment contract, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Pennsylvania employment law attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.
Contact an experienced Conshohocken, Pennsylvania employment law attorney as soon as possible to review your employment contract and discuss your legal options. Contact the employment law attorneys at Curley & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819 today to schedule your free consultation.