Can I claim indemnity or damages if my employer terminates my contract without a written notice and prior the contracts end date?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I claim indemnity or damages if my employer terminates my contract without a written notice and prior the contracts end date?

I am an American expat currently work for an American non-profit, operating in

Guinea, West Africa. My contract expired on 06/30, however my employer decided to extend the contract until 10/01. This contract was signed by my employer and myself in July. Then on 08/14, without a written notice. my employer decided to terminate my contract on the spot, claiming that my work was unsatisfactory. She then gave me a list of deliverables to complete by a specific timeline, threatening to not pay my salary and fringe benefits if the documents are not complete. Is this legal? Can I sue my employer for not adhering to the term of the contract and ask for pay throughout my contracts normal end date? Furthermore, according to my first contract that ended on 06/30, my employer owes me fringe benefits in the form of a housing allowance, which according to my contract, was supposed to be paid monthly in the amount of $300 but was never paid. This clause is also in the new contract that they decided to terminate, this makes it 7 months that my housing allowance has not been paid and September would make it a total of 8 months, totaling $2,400 in unpaid housing allowance. What legal procedure can I take to make sure that my funds are paid?

Asked on August 16, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Under U.S. law, contracts, including employment contracts, are enforceable as per their plain terms, so if terminated early without some valid reason (e.g. due to your own breach of your obligations), you'd be entitled to pay for the rest of the contract term; and if you did not receive all allowances, benefits, etc. due you under the contract, you could sue for that, too.
If the non-profit has a U.S. location, you could sue them in the U.S. in the state and county where they are located.
However, if the non-profit is only located in Guinea and you worked there for them, no U.S. court would have jurisdiction, or power, over this situation: it's not enough that you are an American ex-pat to convey jurisdication. Rather, to have power, either the entity to be sued must be in the U.S. or the contractual violation must have occured in the U.S. Otherwise, you'd pesumably have to sue in a court in Guinea, West Africa, and we cannot offer an opinion as to the law or court procedures there.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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