Breach of Contract Attorney in Memphis
Assisting Employees Since 1980
Donati Law, PLLC has significant experience in handling breach-of-contract claims on behalf of employees. While most employment relationships are at-will, which means that either the employer or the employee can terminate employment at any time, with or without good cause, not all employment relationships are at-will. Since 1980, our Memphis employment law attorneys have been delivering high-quality legal representation to workers facing breach of contract issues.
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Some employers enter into written employment contracts with their employees. When these written contracts provide fixed terms of employment, or when the contracts alter the requirements for termination, then the employers may not be able to fire the employees without a good reason.
Contracts can contain other terms of employment as well, such as:
- Identification of compensation
- A severance package
- Job duties
Common Breach of Contract Disputes
Contracts are important for many dealings and a breach of contract can cause harm to one or both parties. There are many different ways a contract can be broken, and the way these breaches are resolved can vary, too. Often, the nature of the breach is important to determine how reparations will be made, so it is important to consider common disputes. Breach of contract disputes typically fall into four categories:
- Anticipatory breach
- Actual breach
- Minor breach
- Material breach
An anticipatory breach occurs when one party in a contract announces that they do not intend to meet the terms of the contract. This must be done in advance of the due date for the performance, but after the parties have entered into an agreement. Anticipatory breaches can waste time and money, and the non-breaching party typically has the right to take action for damages when the breach is announced.
Just as the name implies, this type of breach occurs when a party fails to meet the terms of the contract by the due date. The job may not be completed, or may not have even been started, before the due date. If a party refuses to uphold their part of the deal, the other party is entitled to damages for the financial or material loss due to the breach.
These breaches are less serious in nature and involve a small issue. This can be something like meeting the terms of the contract the morning after it is due. Typically, a reasonable delay is only considered a minor breach, so long as all other parts of the contract are met. Contracts that state that time is of the essence or that there is a tight deadline can increase the severity of the breach to an actual breach. Typically though, breaches of this nature are considered minor, and the non-breaching party may be able to recover minimal damages or none at all.
A material breach occurs when the end result or product is vastly significant than the contract. This can occur when a design contract results in a product that is not what was requested, or when a delivery of a specific type of goods is actually another type or is a different quantity than outlined in the contract. These types of breaches have nothing to do with deadlines, but rather the product or service that was contracted.
Remedies for Breaches of Contract
The type of remedy that will be ordered by the court will depend on the type of breach and the severity of the breach. Remedies may come in two main forms: monetary damages and specific performance.
The most common remedy, damages, are payment in one form or another to compensate the non-breaching party for their losses. There are several kinds of damages, such as:
- Compensatory damages: Damages that put the non-breaching party in the same position they were before the contract.
- Punitive damages: Payments that are beyond compensation the breaching party would normally pay to punish the wrongful party for their acts. These are very rare unless the case overlaps with another area, such as fraud.
- Nominal damages: Token damages when a breach occurred, but there was no actual financial injury proven.
- Liquidated damages: Specific damages that were previously identified in the contract itself by the parties. These are outlined in case the contract is breached. These damages should be a reasonable estimate of the damages that may result from a breach.
When monetary damages are not adequate enough as a legal remedy, specific performance may be ordered. The breaching party will be ordered to complete the duty laid out in the contract. This is the most common remedy when the contract was for a unique or rare subject, and the non-breaching party cannot be placed back in the same position they would have been in had the breach not occurred.
Have a Breach of Contract Issue? Turn to Donati Law, PLLC for Help.
If you have a written contract and your employer violates one of these terms, you may have a claim for breach of contract. Also, your employer may have a verbal contract with you regarding the terms of your employment. These contracts are often difficult to prove, but evidence such as emails, letters, telephone calls, or other forms of communication that verify the terms of the contract are helpful to prove that a contract exists.
Your employer's conduct, policies, statements, and practices may also create an implied contract. These types of contracts normally are created by the long-term practices of your employer. Finally, you may be able to enforce a promise made to you by your employer, even if it does not create an actual contract. You only have a claim if you did something in response to your employer's promise and suffered some harm as a result.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you.