CACI 2420 Breach of Employment Contract—Specified Term—Essential Factual Elements

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

2420 Breach of Employment Contract—Specified Term—Essential Factual Elements

[Name of plaintiff] claims that [name of defendant] breached an employment contract for a specified term. To establish this claim, [name of plaintiff] must prove all of the following:

1.That [name of plaintiff] and [name of defendant] entered into an employment contract that specified a length of time that [name of plaintiff] would remain employed;

2.That [name of plaintiff] substantially performed [his/her/nonbinary pronoun] job duties [unless [name of plaintiff]’s performance was excused [or prevented]];

3.That [name of defendant] breached the employment contract by [discharging/demoting] [name of plaintiff] before the end of the term of the contract; and

4.That [name of plaintiff] was harmed by the [discharge/demotion].

Directions for Use

The element of substantial performance should not be confused with the “good cause” defense: “The action is primarily for breach of contract. It was therefore incumbent upon plaintiff to prove that he was able and offered to fulfill all obligations imposed upon him by the contract. Plaintiff failed to meet this requirement; by voluntarily withdrawing from the contract he excused further performance by defendant.” (Kane v. Sklar (1954) 122 Cal.App.2d 480, 482 [265 P.2d 29], internal citation omitted.) Element 2 may be deleted if substantial performance is not an issue.

See also CACI No. 304, Oral or Written Contract Terms, and CACI No. 305, Implied-in-Fact Contract.

Sources and Authority

At-Will Employment. Labor Code section 2922.

Termination of Employment for Specified Term. Labor Code section 2924.

Contractual Conditions Precedent. Civil Code section 1439.

“[L]abor Code section 2924 has traditionally been interpreted to ‘inhibit[] the termination of employment for a specified term except in case of a wilful breach of duty, of habitual neglect of, or continued incapacity to perform, a duty.’ ” (Khajavi v. Feather River Anesthesia Medical Group (2000) 84 Cal.App.4th 32, 57 [100 Cal.Rptr.2d 627], internal citations omitted.)

“Stated simply, the contract compensation for the unexpired period of the contract affords a prima facie measure of damages; the actual measured damage, however, is the contract amount reduced by compensation received during the unexpired term; if, however, such other compensation has not been received, the contract amount may still be reduced or eliminated by a showing that the employee, by the exercise of reasonable diligence and effort, could have procured comparable employment and thus mitigated the damages.” (Erler v. Five Points Motors, Inc. (1967) 249 Cal.App.2d 560, 562 [57 Cal.Rptr. 516].)

Secondary Sources

Chin et al., California Practice Guide: Employment Litigation, Ch. 4-A, Employment Presumed at Will, ¶¶ 4:2, 4:47 (The Rutter Group)
1 Wrongful Employment Termination Practice (Cont.Ed.Bar 2d ed.) Contract Actions, §§ 8.2–8.20
21 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 249, Employment Law: Termination and Discipline, § 249.21 (Matthew Bender)