How to Get Out of an Employment Contract

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How to Get Out of an Employment ContractBy default, employment in Maryland is at-will. At-will employment means an employer can fire you at any time for almost any reason (or no reason) if you do not have an employment contract that says otherwise. If you are one of the few with an employment contract that obligates your employer to keep you on its roster for a set period, it can be a great boon for your job security. But what happens when you want to end your employment relationship earlier than a contract dictates? Depending on how you handle the situation, an early end of an employment contract could mean a brutal legal battle and fees or an amicable parting.

If you want to know how to get out of an employment contract before it is over, speak to an experienced employment law attorney. At Smithey Law Group, LLC, our experienced attorneys are authorities on employment law in Maryland. Our experienced employment law attorneys can develop a strategy to help you end a relationship governed by an employment agreement with as little contention as possible.

Steps to Getting Out of an Employment Contract

If you are contemplating leaving your position before your employment contract expires, there are steps you should take to give yourself as much protection as possible before you take the leap. Let’s take a look below at what those steps are.

Step One: Speak to an Attorney

Before ending an employment relationship early, you should speak to an employment attorney. Your contract likely has clauses regarding how to handle an early termination and the consequences involved if you do not follow the protocols outlined in the agreement. Have your attorney review the contract and any other employer policies to determine whether any of the following apply to an early termination:

  • Mandatory arbitration,
  • Advance notice,
  • Liquidated damages,
  • Mediation, or
  • Waivers of rights or benefits.

You should also speak to your attorney about your reasons for wanting to leave early. You will likely need to give your employer written notice of your intentions and motivations, and an attorney can present those factors to your employer in a manner that is most beneficial to you.

Step Two: Take Stock of Your Post-Employment Opportunities and Resources

Leaving a position early can have several professional and financial consequences if you have a contract with your employer. A contract might require you to pay liquidated damages to leave early. Consider whether you can afford to pay these types of damages and whether separating from your employer is worth the money.

An employment contract might also prevent you from performing work in the same geographical area and in the same field for a significant period of time (possibly years). Contract clauses prohibiting a departing employee from working in the same field and area are called non-compete agreements. If your employer’s non-compete agreement is valid, you should consider whether you have solid employment prospects that would not be affected by a non-compete clause. And even if you have subsequent work that should not be affected by a non-compete clause, your employer might want to litigate the matter, and you need to be financially prepared for the fight.

Step Three: Give Your Employer Notice

As we stated above, your employment agreement will likely require you to provide advance, written notice of your intentions to resign. Make sure you provide your notice within the timeframe noted in the contract. Before submitting your written notice (and after speaking to a knowledgeable attorney), speak to your employer about any grievances that are the basis of your desire to depart. Your employer might agree to resolve the complaint you have against it, or it might agree to release you from your contract without sanctions. Consult with your attorney about the best way to handle a resolution with your employer.

Step Four: Make Sure You Have Written Evidence of Any Resolutions with Your Employer

If your employer agrees to terminate your employment contract early or address your grievances, make sure you have that agreement in writing. You should also make sure the agreement is signed and dated by your employer. Speak to an attorney who has reviewed your employment contract about what language should be in an early release or resolution agreement. An agreement between you and your employer will likely have new consequences that you need to consider before sealing the deal.

What to Know About Your Employee Rights in an Employment Contract

Whether you are signing a new employment contract, a severance agreement, or a complaint resolution agreement, you should be aware of your rights as an employee. When signing an agreement related to your job, you have the following rights:

  • Time to seek an attorney’s review of the agreement terms,
  • Prohibition against waivers of participating in employment discrimination complaints,
  • Prohibition against non-compete agreements with unreasonable terms, and
  • Prohibition against contract penalties (but not liquidated damages) for breaches.

While a contract must respect the above-listed employee rights, you might have to litigate whether the terms of your contract are truly in violation of these rights. Having an attorney review your agreement before signing or early termination is the best way to prevent costly or time-consuming litigation.

Smithey Law Group Can Help You Make the Best Decision

You should not have to stay in any employment decision that is harmful to you. And while you have the right to leave any job at any time, your departure can come with steep consequences. At Smithey Law Group, our experienced attorneys focus solely on resolving employment disputes, and we can reduce or eliminate the repercussions of ending an employment relationship early.

Our attorneys are respected among parties seeking counsel in employment matters and other attorneys and authorities in the employment law field. We are also award-winning advocates. If you need help, please call us at 410-881-8994 or reach out to us on our website.

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Joyce Smithey, a seasoned employment and labor law attorney, has over 22 years of experience representing both employers and employees in Maryland and D.C. Her practice, rooted in a deep understanding of employment law, spans administrative hearings to federal litigation. Joyce's approach is comprehensive, focusing on protecting client interests while ensuring legal compliance. A Harvard graduate, her career began in Fortune 500 companies, transitioning to law after a degree from Boston University School of Law. Joyce's expertise is recognized by numerous awards, including Maryland’s Top 100 Women. At Smithey Law Group LLC, which she founded in 2018, Joyce continues to champion employment rights, drawing on her rich background in law and business.

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