What are the consequences of breaking my contract to take care of my critically ill mother if employer denies me leave to do so?

I gave notice to my employer that I am quitting shortly. My contract says I need to give 3 months notice. My mother is critically ill in India and I want time off to take care of her. My employer has denied me any leave. What are the consequences if I just leave right now to take care of my mom and don’t do their 3 months? I already have another job so I don’t care if they fire me. They can’t physically drag

me to work. If they sue me for breach of contract, will a court look favorably on me given my extenuating circumstances? My contract says I may be forced to pay their locum’s costs if they have to hire one to cover my job but that’s the only financial penalty mentioned.

Asked on April 13, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New York


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, your mother's illness is of no concern to your employer. Basically, business is business. Accordingly, you can be sued for breach of contract if you fail to give adequate notice of your leaving your job. While unfair, it is legal.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you breach your contract by inadequate notice, the employer can sue you for the costs or economic losses caused by the breach, such as the costs to hire someone to cover your position. Your family's circumstances or mother's health is legally irrelevant and will not provide a defense; your problems or issues are your concerns, not your employer's and do legally justify breach of contract.

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