California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

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

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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] job
duties [unless [name of plaintiff]’s performance was excused [or
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].
New September 2003
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 ¶¶ 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)