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I entered a contract and was fired (Dec) before my contract began (Jan). Can I have my contract payed out?

San Jose, CA |

I was hired to coach volleyball from January to May. I was terminated "Due to the lack of teams this season..." in early Dec.

1. I worked before the Season and was not paid. Eventually, I refused to work until the season began/I was paid. I was terminated 10 days later.
2. I feel I was fired as retaliation for not giving more free time.
3. I filed with Labor Commissioner and they can help with hours I already worked, but they said they could not help with my Contract in January.

The Team I was assigned to is still in existence
4. I would have been payed $500 per month - $2500 total. Can I sue? Small Claims Court?
5. Did he breach the contract? There is nothing written about termination before the season begins.

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Best answer

    If you were hired as an employee and not an independent contractor, and you can prove that your contract was terminated because you were unwilling to work for free, then yes, you could sue and claim retaliation for standing up for your Labor Code rights. Alternatively if your contract was for a period of time of more than a month, and you were hired as an employee, you were not an at will employee. That means the contract can only be terminated for cause as stated in the agreement, and if no termination provision is set forth in the agreement explaining the basis on which you could be terminated, the Labor Code will fill in the "causes" for which you could be terminated.

    The issue might be whether or not you are an employee. If you were an independent contractor, the issues are very different. If there is any question, you should consult with a good employment law attorney.

    Good luck to you.

    This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.

  2. You are entitled to at least minimum wage for the hours you worked. The Labor Commissioner can help with that. You may have a claim for breach of contract based on promissory estoppel. The claim would be that you gave up other opportunities to take this job. You had a right to prove your ability to perform.

    I would want to read the contract to advise further, but generally, if it does not say you can be terminated at any time for any reason, you may be owed the full value of the contract, even if it turns out the employer doesn't need you. Again, I would need to see the contract.

  3. While I cannot give you legal advice in this forum, you very well may have a cause for breach of contract. However, it will depend on the exact wording of the agreement. If they terminated your contract because you would not give them "free" time and the contract does not expressly require you to provide "free" time, sounds like you can sue for damages (less any other income you received during that same time period due to an obligation to mitigate damages).


  4. Consider a small claims action if you cannot get full satisfaction from the Labor Commissioner.

    On the other hand, if you got a job paying the same or more, you have probably covered your losses and you have to ask yourself whether it is worth it to spin your wheels on unproductive and unpleasant matters.

    Best regards,

    David A. Mallen

    David A. Mallen offers answers on Avvo for general information only. This offer of free, general answers is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. If you need specific advice regarding your legal question, you should consult an attorney confidentially. Many experienced California labor and employment attorneys, including David A. Mallen offer no-risk legal consultations to employers and employees at no charge. David A. Mallen is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, as well as the California Labor Commissioner and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Failure to take legal action within the time periods prescribed by law could result in the loss of important legal rights and remedies.

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