How to break an employment contract?

UPDATED: Jan 28, 2011

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How to break an employment contract?

I am reviewing an employment contract, and see that I am basically locked into the contract for 3 years with no way out. However the business has the right to terminate me at any time they want. Is this standard for an employment contract? And what could happen if I choose to just quit early?

Asked on January 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

An employment contract is whatever the two parties agree to. So a one-sided contract like this is not uncommon.

As long as you received something of value--such as employment--the contract will be binding; you received employment in exchange for committing to it.

What will happen if you quit early? Usually the contract will spell it out. If it doesn't, the employer could probably sue you for one or more of the following: (1) the cost of relocation; (2) a hiriing/signing bonus you were paid on coming onboard; (3) the cost paid to a recruiter on your behalf; (4) the cost of hiring a replacement for you (e.g. any recruitment fees).

How to get out of it: unless the company breaches the contract in some way that would justify termination, you may not be able to get out.

For a thorough opinion based on the specifics of your situation and your contact--not on general principals--take the contract to an employment attorney to review it for you.

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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