Bakersfield, CA asked in Contracts and Employment Law for California

Q: Does this constitute breach of contract therefore needing to pay the penalty for resigning against her will?

My RN wife was escorted out of the facility shes working at by the Director of Nursing because she refused to do something she was not trained at. With this, she felt harrased. But when she brought this up with HR, no action was done therefore, harassment of the Director of Nursing went on. She felt the DON was intentionally trying to find errors in her that might compromise her license. Due to this, she resigned against her will over the possibility of losing her license. Apparently, she was under contract for 2 yrs but was only their for 6 months (holding EB3 visa). Since she resigned early, as per contract, she needs to pay a penalty due to breach of contract. My concern is, does she really need to pay the penalty or did she really commit breach of contract despite the fact that resigning was not what she really wanted? She resigned because she felt threatened everytime she reports for work. She resigned for a reason not just because she wanted to. Hope to get thoughts on this. Tnx

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2 Lawyer Answers
Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
  • Westminster, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Far more would need to be known about this situation before anyone could give solid advice. Generally the law does not protect employees against bullying, harassment or high pressure tactics to get someone to quit. Unless it can be established that the conduct was motivated by her membership in a protected class of people, or because she engaged in some form of legally protected conduct, there is no liability for it.

That said, if it could be established that this happened to your wife because she was standing up for patient safety, i.e., by refusing to do something she was untrained to do there would be a violation of some objective medical safety standard, then she might have a claim.

No one here can competently opine about a breach of contract without having the ability to review the contract terms. The same is true about the liquidated damages provision.

Your wife should seek out a consultation with an attorney who can have the opportunity to read the document and to learn about more of the facts surrounding this occurrence.

Good luck to you and to your wife.

Gerald Barry Dorfman and Yelena Gurevich agree with this answer

1 user found this answer helpful

Eva Zelson
Eva Zelson

A: Workers have the right to work in a professional, harassment-free environment and they have options for recourse when that is not the case. Legally, the intolerable working conditions in a hostile work environment claim result from an employee’s sex, race, religion, national origin, veteran’s status, age, or other protected status. If you’ve got evidence of this, you may have a case. Otherwise, mean or unfair treatment and pressure tactics are not illegal. Either way, consult with an employment attorney to discuss the breach of contract issue. The attorney will need more detail about the exact circumstances of “resigning against her will.” If your wife had moral or ethical concerns that led to her resignation, perhaps there is some recourse, but an attorney will need to examine the terms of the employment contract to know for sure. Good luck.

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