Breach of Contract
When an employer enters into an oral or written contract, it must abide by its terms. If you are dealing with a breach of contract by your employer, you should consult our experienced Austin employment lawyers about what happened to determine whether you have a basis for filing suit.Claims Based on a Breach of Contract
In Texas, a contract is a promise that has legal consequences that are implemented once an offer is accepted and a valuable agreed-upon exchange takes place. To establish that an employer breached your employment contract, you will need to establish that a valid contract existed, you performed or tendered performance, the defendant breached the contract, and you suffered damages due to the breach. Sometimes only one party signs the contract, but the other party may accept by how they act or by acquiescing to the terms.
Oral employment contracts can exist and may cover such matters as your work schedule, compensation, responsibilities, vacation time, location of work, and benefits or bonuses. When oral promises constitute an employment contract, the court gains the power to enforce the contract terms. A breach of an oral contract exists if there is a valid contract under which you performed your obligations, but the defendant violated a term or condition of the contract, and as a result, you suffered damages.
Jobs provided with only an oral contract can be more insecure than jobs connected to a written contract. Since a promise was made orally, it may be more difficult to enforce the contract. An oral employment agreement that can be fully performed in one year or that has a term of less than a year in duration is usually binding.
When bringing a breach of contract claim based on an oral contract, an employer may claim that you misunderstood or misremembered the specified oral terms of the contract. Generally, there is an imbalance of power between an employer and an employee, and an employer may decide to change a term or condition of employment without checking with the employee. You may be able to hold an employer responsible for a breach of contract when the contract is oral, but often cases involving a written employment agreement are stronger.
Whether you can sue for a breach of a written contract depends on the express terms or conditions being violated. Generally, an at-will employee can be terminated for any reason, as long as the reason does not violate an express contract or a specific statute or arise from an employee's refusal to break the law. Employment contracts sometimes limit the employer's right to terminate to situations in which there is good cause, a specific event takes place, or a firm term of employment expires. In some cases, an employer must follow its own discipline or dismissal procedures as specified in an employment handbook, but many employers include a disclaimer in the employment handbook that allows them to deviate from the procedures as they see fit.
Texas courts will construe employment contracts in the same way that they construe other contracts. They will interpret the parties' expressed intent. Although there may be multiple documents given to you by your employer, separate instruments that were executed at the same time in the same transaction and for the same purpose are interpreted together.
For example, an offer letter that is executed alongside an employment contract is construed together with the employment contract, except when the language of the documents expresses something different. Even if there are duplicate provisions, it does not necessarily mean that the parties did not intend the offer letter to be part of the employment contract.Discuss Your Contract with an Austin Attorney
If you are harmed by an employer's breach of a contract, you should consult an attorney who understands these situations. The remedies and damages available will depend on the specific circumstances. The amount of monetary damages that you can recover may be affected by the nature and extent of the breach, provisions related to damages in the contract, and the nature of the harm that you suffered. The Austin attorneys at Wiley Walsh, P.C. also represent people in Georgetown, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Leander, Del Valle, Kyle, San Marcos, San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Fredericksburg, among other cities. Call us at (512) 271-5527 or use our online form to set up an appointment. We also can advise you if you need a discrimination attorney or guidance in other forms of employment litigation.