Asserting Your Rights When an Employer Breaches a Work Contract

Knowledgeable Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, and Jackson attorneys working for employees throughout Tennessee who get an unfair or illegal bargain

Work contracts set the terms of work and obligations for both the employer and the employee. Some employees enter into a written agreement with their employer before they start working. Others rely on an oral understanding. More experienced and highly qualified employees can often demand a written contract. Some institutions such as public schools, private schools, and government institutions prepare written agreements that employees have to sign. When work disputes arise, the contract is the starting point for determining what happens.

At Gilbert McWherter Scott Bobbitt PLC, it is our job to know employee rights. We have broad experience in representing clients when employers violate the contract terms or seek to enforce provisions of the contract that are onerous. Our Tennessee breach of contract lawyers read every word of the written contract, understand the relevant statutory and common law, and work to get employees the benefits and rights they are entitled to. We negotiate fair settlements but also try cases before arbitrators and juries when employers are not cooperating.

Types of employment contracts

Written contracts generally provide much more protection for employees than oral contracts. Written contracts are normally prepared by the employer. In some cases, the employee can change the terms of the contract but, in many situations, the employee is presented with a contract they must sign in order to be able to be hired for the job. When possible, employees should seek legal review of the contract before signing it.

Without a written contract, most employees can be terminated at will. This means the employer can fire the employee without cause and at a moment’s notice. The employee can also quit whenever he or she wants to.

Often the business arrangement can be determinative of whether there will be a dispute. Employees who invested in the company, provided unique services, or created good will for the employer have more leverage than employees who can be easily replaced.

Common disputes

Almost any item in the contract can be disputed. Some of the common disputes the Gilbert Firm handles are:

  • Termination rights. Disputes can arise over whether the employer needs grounds to fire an employee and what those grounds are. The employee may argue that proper notice was not given so that the employee could have time to look for new work.
  • Wages and benefits. Employees often assert that they did not get their last remaining paychecks or reimbursements. Some benefits such as stock options, pensions, and retirement benefits may be litigated over whether the employee keeps those items, how and when those items are valued, and whether the employee can assign those benefits. Accumulated vacation pay or sick pay may also be contested. A Tennessee breach of contract attorney at the Gilbert Firm is ready to fight for all the wages and benefits each employee deserves.
  • Severance packages. Some employment contracts have a severance package written into the contract that lets the employee terminate the contract and receive pay based on the employee’s length of service. Employers who offer a severance package to employees and did not have a contractual obligation to do so still cannot force an improper termination or violate applicable law.
  • Non-compete agreements. Many employers try to restrict competition by precluding the employee from becoming the competition. These non-compete provisions generally state that the employee cannot compete with the prior employer within a certain geographical area and for a limited amount of time. Our Tennessee breach of contract lawyers use many arguments for employees such as that a non-compete clause is overly broad or punitive and thus invalid.
  • Nondisclosure agreements and trade secrets. Employees with technical skills, scientific skills, financial skills, or artistic skills often want to use those abilities in their new job or business. Nondisclosure agreements generally state that employees who use intellectual property acquired during the prior job cannot use that acquired knowledge in a new job without the consent of the employer. The Gilbert Firm fights to allow employees to use all the skills they have in a new job.
  • Collective bargaining agreements. Collective bargaining agreements are agreements between an employer and the union that represents some or all of the workers in the employer’s business. These agreements are binding on the employer and can be enforced by the employee through the union. Our Tennessee breach of contract lawyers effectively work with unions and their representative to make sure employers comply with the agreement and with local and federal labor laws.

Many employers have a provision in the written contract that disputes will be settled through binding arbitration instead of a trial by jury. Binding arbitration means the dispute is tried by one or more people who are experienced in employment dispute issues. Our lawyers are adept at trying cases before arbitrators.

Lawyers holding Tennessee employers responsible when they breach your employment contract

The Gilbert Firm fights for anyone who is the subject of discrimination in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Jackson, and across Tennessee. We aggressively fight to hold the employer accountable and to get you the right employment status and all the work benefits you deserve. To review your case with an experienced Tennessee breach of contract lawyer, please call 888.354.FIRM (3476) or complete our contact form.