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Payton & Associates, LLC
Commercial Litigation Attorneys
Miami, Florida

University employee files for breach of contract

A former employee of a university in the Northwest is suing her one-time employer for failing to live up to a promise. Breach of contract suits are not unfamiliar to Florida business insiders, who understand the severity of such a charge. In this case the university is accused of providing only a single year of employment when six were promised to the woman in question.

According to the suit, the woman was encouraged by the university to "put down roots" in the community after being offered the position of associate vice president for development, a position pertaining to university fundraising. Negotiations regarding the contract resulted in a guaranteed salary of $145,000 per year for a six-year period. This included a $10,000 signing bonus and a promise to help mitigate moving costs.

The woman's employment was suddenly terminated some four months later with no appropriate reason apparently given by the employer, Willamette University in Oregon. The woman says she was repeatedly praised by colleagues and superiors for her outstanding work. The implied-in-fact contract was violated by this move, the lawsuit states, and the woman is now seeking reparations in full. This includes close to $800,000 in wages, plus benefits and bonuses, as well as lost wages for her husband who quit his position to join her at the university.

It will be interesting for Florida residents to see how this breach of contract suit plays out. If the specifics of the alleged agreements were not set in stone, there may be room for the university to challenge the suit. However, if the university is found to have reneged on a legal agreement, it could be required to compensate the woman for her losses, at no small cost to the university.

Source:, "Former Willamette employee files suit for breach of contract", Laura Fosmire, Aug. 14, 2014

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