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Understanding Florida Employment Contracts


Most employees in the United States work on an “at will” basis. This means that both employee and employer can end the relationship “at will,” with some exceptions based on public policy. That said, some employees are hired via contract, and employment contracts are governed by specific provisions of Florida law. If you have one or more employees who are under contract as opposed to at-will, it is crucial that you understand their – and your – rights and responsibilities in that relationship.

Contracts Can Be Created Accidentally

While most employment contracts are affirmatively created by both employer and employee, it is important to be aware that an employment contract can be created in Florida simply by an action that nullifies the “at will” relationship. In other words, a contract exists if an employer makes either oral or written promises that tangibly affect how an employee can be terminated. A commonly seen example is if an employer promises that an employee will not be terminated without cause.

A contract does not have to be for full-time work; it is quite normal nowadays to enter into a contract with a potential hire that has a specific end date, or spells out specific duties that your company needs performed. Still, it is generally considered a good idea to ensure that not all employees who are ‘similarly situated’ are offered the same terms; if a company is not careful, such practices can give rise to discrimination lawsuits from other employees.

Breach Can Lead To Financial Consequences

As one might imagine, it is never a good idea to breach an employment contract, but if you find that your business has done so, it is important to understand the nature of the allegations against you. While there are different types of breaches of contract, Florida law requires that a breach be material in order for the wronged party to file suit. A material breach is essentially when one party delivers something different – a different job description or compensation package, for example – than was agreed in the contract.

If the employment contract in question does not require some form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration, the employee can file suit in the relevant court and ask for damages from your business. Contracts, at their heart, require what the law calls a ‘meeting of the minds,’ and if there is no ‘meeting,’ it cannot be said that the contract has the consent of both parties – and without mutual consent, one party invariably winds up injured and seeking compensation.

Contact A Seminole, FL Business Law Attorney

Many employers try to avoid employment contracts for the simple reason that relationships evolve – to renegotiate can be time and trouble best avoided if possible. If you have questions or concerns about employment contracts in your business, a Florida business law attorney from the Hunt Law Group can assist. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

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