Working in the modern world typically means signing a lengthy, detailed contract, one which is often skewed in the favor of the employer. In many cases, employees sign on to contracts they do not fully understand because they assume the fine print is standard, or simply because they need the job.
However, when the business relationship runs its course, many employees find that their contracts are surprisingly one-sided and unwieldy. For some, these contracts may be outright unfair. They may contain terms that significantly harm or disadvantage the employee without a strong justification.
If you have concerns about your own employment contract and the consequences of breaking it, it is wise to examine it through they eyes of the law. You may find that you have opportunities to push for more acceptable terms, or opportunities to push back against unfair consequences for breaking the contract.
Understand alleged violations
Before you determine whether the consequences for breaking your contract are fair and enforceable, it is good to have a strong understanding of the violation you allegedly committed. If your employer claims that you are in breach of contract, it is rarely a good idea to take their word for it. With some careful review of your own, you may find that you are not actually in breach, or that the situation is different than the way your employer represents it.
Once you understand the basis of the complaints against you, you can better address them while keeping your rights secure.
The way that television and movies present contracts, one might assume that anything goes as long as both parties signed on the bottom line. However, this is simply untrue. It is more common than you might think for employers to include language in their contracts that is unenforceable, simply because many employees don't realize it. While this is ethically debatable, it is usually legal.
For instance, a contract may include non-compete clauses with far too much reach. This might look like an employer asking an employee to decline work from direct competitors in a 300-mile radius of the employer's home base. If the employer is a local service provider who does not serve outside of one or two zip codes, then the scope of the non-compete clause is probably too broad, and a court may not uphold it.
Examine every angle
You must keep yourself and your rights protected as you navigate the business world, because it is unlikely that anyone else will do this work for you out of their own altruism. Be sure to use all the legal resources you have and any professional guidance that you need to keep your priorities secure while you resolve your employment contract dispute fairly.