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Employment Contracts Archives

What remedies exist following a breach of contract?

As a Pennsylvania employer, a time may come when one of your employees fails to uphold his or her contractual obligations. Such obligations might include failing to complete a job within a predetermined period, failing to perform a job as obligated or breaching a non-compete clause.

Whether you have any recourse as an employer, per Findlaw, generally comes down to whether the breach of contract that occurs is considered "material" or "immaterial" in nature. If the breach is material, then you may be able to move forward with pursuing a solution. If you try and work things out with your employee to no avail, you may want to have your attorney send what is commonly known as a demand letter or a cease and desist letter, depending upon the particular situation, before you move on to filing a lawsuit against the employee.

There are three main remedies for a breach of contract, and these include damages, specific performance and restitution. Damages awarded might be compensatory, punitive, nominal or liquidated, depending on the specifics of your cases, but damages are the most common remedy for a contract breach.

In some breach of contract matters, you may be able to seek a remedy referred to as "specific performance." This is rare and only available where typical monetary damages may not adequately compensate for what you lost.  However, a court will not order a person to specifically perform an action or continue working, so generally specific performance is not available in employment cases.  What may be available though is an injunction, an order to stop an employee's behavior if they are breaching the contract and harming your business.

A third and final remedy involves cancellation and restitution. Cancellation involves canceling the contract entirely, after which you may be able to sue your contract-breaching employee for restitution.

Employment contracts can be important for key employees or those who have access to vital information but they are not necessarily right for every employee as they obligate not only the employee but the company.  When an employee breaches a contract action needs to be carefully considered and then swiftly taken to maximize effectiveness.  The attorneys at Kisner Law Firm can assist with determining when employment contracts are necessary, draft effective and enforceable contracts and how to best pursue any remedies if a material breach does occur.

Employment contracts benefit workers and business owners

When the time comes to expand a business, a Pennsylvania entrepreneur may wish to hire employees to help carry the load. However, this may fill a business owner with trepidation because of the many potential complications that come with hiring, compensating and perhaps firing employees. Business owners often find that some of those complications can be avoided with a carefully drafted employment contract.

The advantages of such a contract include addressing common contingencies that arise in business situations. Contracts can describe what an employer expects of his or her workers, the benefits the employee may receive and how the relationship between boss and worker may end. While contracts are not always necessary, many business owners find that they are able to retain employees longer when they have signed such an agreement.

Contracts can also include important protections for the business owner. For example, a contract may include non-compete clauses, preventing former employees from seeking work with a company rival. Managers may also benefit from including requirements for employers to give reasonable notice before leaving the job. A common drawback of employment contracts is that they eliminate the "at-will" option, which allows an employer to fire a worker who isn't producing. A contract may protect the worker from such dismissal.

Well-drafted employment contracts can save business owners many headaches. Finding the balance between protecting one's business and attracting a talented employee requires skill and knowledge of employment law. Many business owners in Pennsylvania find those qualities in a experienced Kisner Law Firm attorney who can help them create a contract appropriate for their circumstances.

Source: entrepreneur.com, "Employment Contract", Accessed on Aug. 12, 2017

Questions to be answered regarding unpaid internships

During the summer, it is fairly common for companies to offer internships to high school and college students. Students get valuable experience with a company that improves their job prospects after they graduate, and employers get an opportunity to audition prospective employees.

While some internships come with a fair wage, others are unpaid. Given state and federal employment laws, are unpaid internships legal?

The quick answer is: it depends on the circumstances. Generally speaking, unpaid internships may comply with state and federal wage and hour laws if they satisfy certain criteria.  These rules are in place so that employers do circumvent federal minimum wage laws by simply naming seasonal temporary employees "interns." This post will highlight a few of the factors the U.S. Department of Labor may use to determine if an unpaid internship properly follows federal law. 

Whether the experience supplements classroom - An unpaid internship must utilize or expand upon training or education previously provided in a classroom environment. This may mean that a particular class must have been completed as a prerequisite to the internship.

The intern must benefit from the job - In the same vein, the intern usually receives some type of academic credit that will be used to satisfy graduation requirements.  

Regular employees can still work - Permanent employees must not be displaced by unpaid interns, and any interns working on a temporary basis must be supervised by an existing, permanent employee.

If you are putting together a new internship program or have accepted students into one and have questions about proper compensation, an experienced employment law attorney can advise you.

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