Some workers have employment contracts with their employers, which are agreements about the terms of their employment. An employment contract can be anything from a simple oral agreement to a long written contract. Employment contracts may be implied, oral or written. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler assist people with understanding their contracts and enforcing their rights.
Most employees are at-will employees. This means that they can quit or be fired at any time as long as the reason is not illegal. Unless you have a contract that creates a different relationship between you and your employer, you are presumed to be an at-will worker. Even as an at-will worker, you may still have a contract about the details of your job without having a guarantee of job security. If you have an employment contract, you have the right to enforce its terms.
Written employment contracts
Written contracts are formal documents that establish the terms of your employment. Some of these contracts may limit your employer’s ability to fire the employee. This is more common for high-level executives. These types of contracts often list grounds that could result in termination.
Oral employment contracts
Oral contracts are ones that are spoken but not written. They are enforceable in the same way that written contracts are, but they are much more difficult to prove. If a dispute arises, it will be your word against your employer’s word about the agreement that you have.
Implied contracts may also be formed. These are not explicitly stated or written but can be implied from a combination of the employer’s actions and statements. When an employee asserts that there was an implied contract, the employer will argue that the employee was an at-will worker and is unable to sue for a breach of contract. The employee will need to be able to prove that there was enough to create an implied contract. To determine whether an implied contract existed, courts consider the following factors:
- Whether the employee was given assurances that his or her job was secure
- Whether the employer had policies that limited its right to fire for any reason
- Whether the policies of the employer limits the right to terminate at will
The employee’s work history with the employer
If you sign an agreement with your employer that you are an at-will worker, you will not be able to argue that you had an implied contract that contradicted it. Your written agreement will supersede any implied contract that you thought might exist. To learn more about employment contracts and your rights, contact the attorneys at Swartz Swidler today.