Geonetta & Frucht, LLP
By: Geonetta & Frucht, LLP

Every agreement is unique, and so are the outcomes of the breach. Some provisions can protect you, while others can leave you facing the consequences. That is why you need to keep a copy of the contracts you sign. But if you do not have a copy, make sure that you request a copy from your employer for future reference.

A contract is meant to be binding by its terms, but a genuine need to end it may arise. The experienced San Francisco employment lawyers can review your contract and advise you on how to go about it with minimal damage to the company and your reputation.

What Is Considered a Breach of Contract?

You breach a contract when you fail to fulfill the obligations stipulated in the document signed by both you and the employer. So, when you decide to get out of the job before the agreed period, your employer may decide to recover the financial loss suffered or require the contract to be enforced in its terms.

It is worth noting that some contracts can have provisions that permit an employee to legally break the agreement. Working with a San Francisco contract lawyer ensures that your current and future interests are always safeguarded. It can also protect you from looking unfavorable to potential employers or untrustworthy to your colleagues.

What Provisions Determine How I Exit an Employment Contract?

Every employment contract contains a clause that allows you to break it legally and may include penalties for violating the terms. Some of the common provisions include:

Employment Termination Clause

An employment contract should state whether you are a contractor or an “at-will” employee. If you are working at will, you can terminate the contract at any time, but you have to give a two-week notice. If you are a contractor, the contract will probably have specific conditions for terminating the contract.

Liquidated Damages Clause

This clause can help parties limit the extent of risks involved if they violate a contract’s terms. It states the amount of damages that the employer can get from you as compensation for breach of the employment contract if you decide to quit. However, if the amount is too high, the court may rule it out and consider it unenforceable.

Arbitration Clause

Some contracts have a clause stating that a breach of the contract terms will be handled by an arbitrator. Unfortunately, arbitrators often favor employers over employees to guarantee ongoing business with them.

What Can Make an Employment Contract Void?

A knowledgeable contract attorney near you can look at your contract and determine whether it is void and thus unenforceable.

Here are some factors that can render the contract void:

Unreasonable Terms

If the employment contract was unfair or one-sided, it could be considered void. For instance, you cannot be incriminated for getting out of a job that required you to work for a month without pay; as a form of probation.

Undue Influence

A power imbalance often exists between an employer and an employee, and the superior party may exert undue influence on the other. If the employer had more bargaining power, the contract could be voided. 

Mutual Mistake

If both parties misunderstood each other regarding an aspect that is central to the contract, it might be considered void. A perfect example is when you sign a contract to work in location A, but your employer thinks that you will work from location B – a more remote area.


You won’t be penalized for ending a contract where the employer was deceptive. For instance, they may promise certain benefits and deliver less than was expected. You aren’t expected to work for $10, yet you agreed on $20.

Which is the Best Way to End a Legally Binding Employment Contract?

If the contract was well-drafted with no loopholes that can render it unenforceable or void, you could still try other means. You can avoid hefty penalties by choosing to:

Negotiate the Terms of the Contract

Sometimes, your employer may not be as eager to end the contract, and the best alternative may be to negotiate on ways to mitigate the negative effects of your exit. You could offer to remain a bit longer and give the company time to look for a replacement, or even train the new staff once they’re hired.

Find Out if the Employer Will Agree to End the Contract

You may be lucky to find out that your employer is as unhappy about the employment terms, as much as you are. In such cases, you can mutually agree to let each other go and terminate the contract. These agreements can save employers and employees a lot of time and money.

Can an Employer Enforce a Non-Compete Agreement?

It may be difficult to enforce a non-compete agreement in California following law amendments. Employees who want to switch to a competitor employer are protected by the California Business and Professional Code Section 16600. This law voids any contract that bars a person that intends to conduct lawful business, trade, or profession.

Despite being rejected often by California courts, the non-compete clause is still included in some contracts. Some employers even wrongfully use it as a condition for hiring people. The mere belief that a former employee may use confidential information to the competitor’s advantage is not enough. However, if they actually misappropriate it, the courts can uphold the charges.

Legal Counsel Every Step of the Way

It is a good idea to involve a San Francisco employment attorney during the pre-contractual negotiations in California. They can review the proposed contract and suggest additional terms and revisions that are more favorable to you. A good agreement should make it easy for you to exit when you want to, in a way that will not negatively impact the business and your reputation.

Sometimes, ending an employment contract early could be your best option. It would be best if you didn’t endure unsafe working conditions, retaliation, harassment, or workplace discrimination to keep your contract obligation. Schedule a consultation with an employment lawyer to discuss your employment issues in California.

Geonetta & Frucht, LLP
By: Geonetta & Frucht, LLP