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Nancy Delain
Nancy Delain, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 198
Experience:  Registered Patent Attorney (1/2005); Attorney at Law (1/2004); M.S., Tech Writing (5/1981)
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I am an international educator at the French American International

Customer Question

I am an international educator at the French American International School in San Francisco. I have been employed by them for five years, and just recently signed a conract for a sixth.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Nancy Delain replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for contacting Just Answer. I look forward to assisting you.

While we write back and forth, please keep in mind that I do not know what you already know or don't know, or with what you need help, unless you tell me.

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By using this forum and/or clicking ACCEPT, you expressly acknowledge that any information I may give in response to your question in this forum does not constitute legal advice; there is no attorney-client relationship between us; and all questions and answers are visible to the whole world, including your opponent, and any information provided is therefore not confidential. Because of the public nature of this forum, by posting anything here you waive irrevocably any and all claim to confidentiality or privilege as to the content posted. Please post only that information that you are willing for your opponent to see and use against you if this matter goes to court. Any money you may give me in response to this posting (which may include both your agreed-on sum and any bonus payment) is a gift of gratitude, and is not intended as, nor should it be construed as, attorney's fees. For more information about your matter, you should consult with an attorney of your choice in a traditional face-to-face or telephonic meeting.

You have good reason to be concerned about your current job if applying for another job is a breach of your contract and the other school has approached your superior asking for references (something not generally done until a job has been applied for and accepted). It was indeed unprofessional of the interested school to contact your supervisor without first clearing the contact with you, but now that they have the only thing you can do is damage control. You did not apply for the job; you have told your supervisor this. That is really all you can do at this point EXCEPT to hire an attorney who is local to you who practices employment law.

Your employment lawyer will be able to tell you better than I if there is any action you can take against the school that is pursuing you so aggressively for contacting your supervisor without your permission.

If your current school dismisses you for breach of contract, you can then appeal the dismissal and subpoena the other school's records about you. This will presumably demonstrate that you never submitted an application and thereby never breached the contract. Unless the TIE service (about which I know nothing) generates an application automatically (and you say it does not), that should be sufficient grounds for you to win your appeal as long as keeping a feeler out in the job market is not also a breach of your employment contract (as it shouldn't be; such a clause could well be found to be unenforceable).

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Customer: replied 8 years ago.
My question however is whether my superiors can call such and inquiry about other positions a breach of contract if this is not stipulated as such in writing anywhere (not the contract or the faculty handbook). Can they simply assert that it is and terminate me?
Expert:  Nancy Delain replied 8 years ago.
Your problem is one of appearance. At this point, you appear to your supervisor have actually applied for the other position (references are not generally requested for people who have not applied for a job), thereby breaching your contract.

Based on that appearance, your employer may conclude that you have breached the contract, whether you did or not. Once they conclude that you have breached, they can terminate you for breach under the terms of your contract. You can appeal the termination.

You NEED an employment lawyer who is local to you. San Francisco has lots of them; you can call the State Bar, the City Bar and/or the County Bar for referrals. Handling an employment appeal is more than we can do for you on this board.

Your employer probably cannot terminate you for just looking around to see what's out there (I don't know the precise terms of your contract so cannot say that for sure), but at this moment, they have the reasonable impression, based on the inquiry for references, that you've done a lot more than just look. They can act based on how the matter looks from their point of view -- and it looks to them like you applied for the other job. You can request the other school send your employer a copy of everything they have on you in their files, but I don't know if that will help you, if they comply with your request; it depends on your employer.

It may be that none of this will happen. Your employer may believe your statement that you never applied for another job and that the contact from the other school was something that you never authorized or knew anything about. That would mean that they would not terminate you.

Thanks for accepting my answer above; I do appreciate it. I click on INFO REQUEST here to make sure that you don't see the green ACCEPT button again; I don't want you getting double-billed. We can continue our discussion on this matter until your questions are answered. If I can be of further help to you, Just Ask. If not, feel free to simply close the window; the question will time out by itself.