Can You Break a Veterinary Associate Contract?
Can someone break a veterinary associate contract? The short answer is yes, you can. However, if breaking the employment agreement or employment contract means that you are not adhering to the terms that you signed and agreed to abide by, you could be in breach of the contract. And if you’re in breach, there are some serious consequences that you need to consider. First, sometimes contracts will have liquidated damage clauses stating that if you break this agreement, leave before you complete your term, you do not give proper notice for without cause termination, there may be financial consequences which equate to tens of thousands of dollars. You want to make sure that you read your employment agreement and you understand fully what you’re signing because you can’t just walk away without consequences.
The other thing you want to consider is any of those restrictive covenants. So, that’s your non-compete clause, your non-solicitation of employees. Those all still stand, so even if you break the agreement, you can still be held in violation of the non-compete clause or the non-solicitation clause. So, you want to make sure, again, you read your employment agreement and you understand that those restrictive covenants don’t go away. Even if you breach the agreement, they can come after you for damages, for the breach of the contract, and for a violation of the restrictive covenants. Now, most veterinary employment agreements will have an arbitration clause. That means that you’ll have to sit down with an arbitrator to discuss the damages of this breach. If they don’t have that, then your employer can sue you in court and bring forth any damages. And what’s that going to look like? Well, if they must recruit another veterinarian, the cost of that and onboarding that veterinarian if they’ve lost any business while you are gone, and this can get really serious for someone who’s very specialized and there’s few of you out there that can fill that position.
So, the short answer is yes, you can always break a contract. But what are the consequences of that going to be? You’re probably going to be in breach of the contract and that can either mean arbitration or litigation. You don’t get out of the restrictive covenants; those things stick around. You are going to have to abide by the non-compete and the non-solicitation clauses. Sometimes there’s also confidentiality in there as well. And then, lastly, it’s best just to look at your contract itself. Sometimes, well, most of the time, you should look for it and should not sign a contract that does not have a without cause termination. If there’s a without cause termination, you just give the required notice, which is anywhere between 60 to 90 days, that’s typically an industry standard that you’ll be terminating the agreement. Then at the end of that 60 to 90 days, you walk away.
However, the restrictive covenants are always going to apply, but you’re not opening yourself up to arbitration or litigation costs because you did it properly. The other thing you want to remember if you’re terminating the agreement for without cause, you want to make sure that you give the proper notice so that 60 to 90 days start. There’s normally always a notice clause in your employment agreement contract. However, they’re vastly different. Sometimes you’re able to give your notice in person, via email, however, sometimes they have to be in writing and mailed to headquarters if it’s more of like a corporate setting, but they’re always different. And if you mail them, sometimes the notice starts on the first day and sometimes it starts the third day after you mail it in. Again, you want to read this very carefully, so you make sure that you’re not in breach of your contract.
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