My employer canceled on me (I am a contract worker) and didn't pay the termination fee we discussed. I want to show him the actual law so that he may understand that he should pay me because I have a legal right. The fee was written in the actual contract.

  • In which state? Generally there is not likely to be any statute saying "contracts are legally binding" (this is something that is normally based on court precedent), but depending on your state it might be.
    – cpast
    Feb 21, 2016 at 15:23

2 Answers 2


It isn't ordinarily written in law. The only law directly pointing this out would likely be if you can show a court case with similar facts where an employer was made to pay.

Parties have obligations under contracts, which in most cases are established by the contract itself rather than the law. Those obligations are enforced by bringing a lawsuit in court for "breach of contract." (Or, if the contract specifies, going to arbitration).

If a party refuses to honor their contract, the typical next step is to have a lawyer to write the party a sternly worded "demand letter" on law firm letterhead that makes the party realize he, she, or it has a legal obligation and it will be cheaper to pay than to fight.

  • Would the cost of having the lawyer write the letter be recoverable? Would small claims court be a better option?
    – phoog
    Feb 23, 2016 at 5:50
  • 1
    Small claims court may be a better option if the amount in dispute falls within their jurisdiction. The cost of having the lawyer write the letter is not recoverable by default in the United States, where the "American Rule" requires that each party pay its own costs. However, the contract may specify that the substantially prevailing party can recover its costs under the contract in the event of a dispute. If the contract does, the cost to write the letter is technically recoverable.
    – Tom
    Feb 23, 2016 at 10:46

Contract law is common law, not statute law, that is, there is no piece of legislation that you can point to and say "there's the law".

What you need to do is find cases, preferably decided in your state that support the enforcement of such a clause and quote the cases to the principal.

  • This is true in most states. It is not, however, true in Louisiana (whose legal system has heavy French influence, meaning it has lots of aspects of civil law, particularly for contracts and torts).
    – cpast
    Feb 22, 2016 at 4:24

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