Morgan & Morgan’s Business Trial Group represents employees and businesses in a wide variety of employment lawsuits in Fort Lauderdale and throughout South Florida.
On behalf of workers, our attorneys handle cases involving breach of employment contracts and unpaid compensation, such as wages, bonuses, benefits, or commissions. We also represent businesses in cases that include breaches of non-compete, non-solicitation, and non-disclosure agreements, tortious interference with employment contracts, and misappropriation of trade secrets.
The Business Trial Group’s employment attorneys charge no hourly fees, and no fees at all unless we succeed.
The Business Trial Group’s employment attorneys represent clients on a contingency-fee basis. We charge no hourly fees for our services, and no fees at all unless we successfully resolve your case. Contingency-fee employment litigation ensures that our clients’ claims are decided on merit—not on their ability to afford high hourly attorneys’ fees.
If you have a possible legal claim related to an employment agreement, it is in your best interest to speak with an attorney and understand your rights.
Unpaid Compensation and Breach of Employment Contract Claims
An employment contract is a legally binding agreement between two parties. A breach of contract occurs when one party fails to meet their contractual obligations. Unpaid compensation is one type of contract breach, but depending on the contract terms, many different breaches can occur.
Breach of employment contract claims may arise in the context of an employer-employee relationship, or for goods and services provided on an independent contractor (non-employee) basis.
A worker is legally entitled to the salary, wages, and bonuses they have earned. Not receiving the full amount of compensation you are owed at work may be the basis for a lawsuit.
Unpaid compensation claims may arise over:
- Withheld salary or bonuses
- Failure to pay severance
- Unpaid commissions
- Failure to provide equity
- Failure to administer benefits
- Accrued but unused vacation time
The merits of an unpaid compensation lawsuit depend largely on the terms of the employment agreement. An employment agreement might be a formal contract, it may be less formal writings between the parties, and it can even be a verbal agreement.
Many times, in addition to damages for breach of employment contract, employees may be entitled to recover their attorneys’ fees on claims for unpaid compensation. In Florida, for instance, Florida Statutes, §448.08 entitles employees to their attorneys’ fees if they prevail in an action against an employer for unpaid wages.
Even when unpaid compensation is a clear contract violation, employment contracts and related legal issues can be complex, and an attorney should be consulted.
Breach of Employment Contract Attorney
A breach of contract claim may be filed if one party:
- Fails to deliver the goods, services, or payments they are contractually obligated to provide
- Does not keep promises under the contract (such as a breach of the employment contract notice period)
- Does something that the contract prohibits (including wrongful termination)
- Prevents the other party from performing contract obligations (i.e. tortious interference, or inducing breach of contract)
Individuals and businesses can be within their rights to not meet their contractual obligations when the other party fails to perform as promised. Nonpayment and other nonperformance that is not supported by a valid reason, however, could constitute a breach.
Whether a contract breach invites legal consequences depends in part on whether the breach is “material” or “immaterial”.
Whether a breach invites legal consequences largely depends on whether the breach is “material” (renders the contract irreparably broken or defeats its original purpose) or “immaterial” (an insignificant noncompliance with the contract).
The law also excuses some material breaches of contract that occur from unforeseen circumstances. And since mistakes do happen, accommodations that salvage the contract to both parties’ satisfaction can often be made.
Specific contract dispute questions should be discussed with a Fort Lauderdale employment attorney.
Representing Businesses in Employee Disputes
Businesses are often put in the position of needing to file a lawsuit to protect their rights. Commonly, businesses must safeguard their intellectual property and other interests.
Misappropriation of Trade Secrets
A trade secret is a type of intellectual property that is not safeguarded by formal government registration, such as a patent or trademark, but is instead protected through confidentiality. Trade secrets could include intellectual property such as customer lists, product formulas, manufacturing techniques, and marketing strategies.
While patents last as long as 20 years and copyrights as long as 100 years, trade secrets last indefinitely—provided they are kept secret. Accordingly, entrepreneurs and businesses fiercely protect their trade secrets from being disclosed. This is often done through the use of confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and non-compete agreements.
Trade secrets last indefinitely, but businesses and entrepreneurs must take strong steps to protect this intellectual property.
The federal Uniform Trade Secrets Act protects trade secret holders from misappropriation. Florida law has its own version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which provides the owner of a trade secret with a statutory cause of action for the wrongful acquisition or misappropriation of that information. Attorneys’ fees and costs may be recoverable in some cases for misappropriation of trade secrets.
Trade secrets obtained through theft, bribery, misrepresentation, espionage, or a breach of duty to maintain secrecy can lead to legal action. Possible remedies include damages, lost profits, and royalties.
Non-Compete, Non-Solicitation, and Non-Disclosure Agreements
Businesses may use restrictive covenants to protect their interests. Restrictive covenants are contracts that typically arise out of a business relationship, independent contractor relationship, or the sale of a business, and include the following:
- Non-competition agreement: An employer may ask a new employee, consultant, or independent contractor to sign a non-competition agreement in which the worker promises not to start a competing business or go to work for a competitor for a stated period of time following the termination of the business relationship.
- Non-solicitation agreement: A non-solicitation agreement prevents a former employee or business partner from soliciting a company’s clients, customers, or employees for their own benefit—or the benefit of a competitor—after leaving the company. Non-solicitation agreements may be part of a non-compete agreement.
- Non-disclosure agreement: In a non-disclosure agreement (or confidentiality agreement), an employee or business partner of a company agrees to protect information that the company wants to keep confidential, such as a trade secret.
While these restrictive covenants are intended to protect legitimate business interests, they cannot be used to protect a business from all types of competition. In addition, the agreement must be reasonable in its time, scope of activities, and geography and usually must include some form of “consideration,” or quid pro quo.
Because these agreements are contracts, a violation of the agreement could constitute a breach of contract and entitle the protected party to damages, including lost profits.
Contingency-Fee Employment Attorneys in Fort Lauderdale
Employment disputes can be complex, contentious, and high-stakes. It is not uncommon for the wealthier party to use high hourly attorney fees as leverage against their opponent, driving up legal costs and forcing the other party to accept an unfair settlement.
But this tactic does not work against the Business Trial Group, which handles all employment cases on a contingency-fee basis. We bear the entire cost of a lawsuit, and if we do not win, our client pays us nothing.
The Business Trial Group has recovered millions of dollars for our clients in employment lawsuits involving breaches of contract, unpaid wages and commissions, and other matters. If you are a business, an employee, or a contractor dealing with a potential employment dispute , please contact us for a free consultation.