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If one part of a contract is invalid, can unrelated parts of the contract be held to be invalid as well?

Oceanside, CA |

It's regarding an employment contract and the pay compensation doesn't conform to state labor laws. Can I also contend that the actual duties to be performed be contested as well?

Attorney Answers 4


there is usually a boilerplate 'severabilty clause' in every contract that states that if any part of the agreement is unenforceable, the rest of the contract remains enforceable. If no such language exists, you can make an argument that the rest of the contract is invalid. But in the case of an employer contracting around the labor laws, then the entire agreement illegal and you may secure that is void ab initio ( from the beginning). You may also have wage claims against the employer if you were not paid pursuant to statute.

The opinions published on this forum should not be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship for any purpose, and is intended only for providing informal preliminary information to a legal inquiry.

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Without reviewing the contract, it's not possible to say. One issue is whether the contract allows for provisions to be "severable." Another is your goal in challenging the other provisions of the contract.

without the severability provision, a challenge to the contract is "all or nothing." Your challenge might mean that the entire contract falls -- including (possibly) your right to employment at all. This is a case, then, where you should be careful what you wish for.

I would not worry about the challenge to the unlawful provision causes the contract to fail -- your rights here are statutory, and not based on the contract.

If you have questions and it makes sense economically, you should consult a lawyer as to your contemplated challenge.

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Usually Contracts contain a Severability Clause, which means that if it is found that one or more parts of the contract is deemed unenforceable, other parts will remain enforceable. This is pretty standard in boilerplate contracts. I would suggest looking for this in the contract. If you have this clause, then the answer is Yes. If not, then the answer is Maybe.

Your particular situation may be different. This answer is intended for information purposes only. No Attorney-Client relationship has been established. I am an attorney in the Bay Area.

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Hello. A contract may contain a severability clause, allowing clause to be severed/removed from the contract for certain reasons. Depending on the facts and your goals, holding the entire contract as void may be another possibility and you may be able to seek damages through common law principles. I suggest speaking to a competent attorney to discuss your options. All the best.

This answer should not be used as a final ruling on your case as more facts are needed to fully understand and expound upon your legal inquiry. This answer should be used a short introduction to the legal theories that may apply.

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