Get it in writing: A case study in COVID and employment contracts.

Faced with uncertainty during the early months of the pandemic, some employers closed up shop and placed employees on temporary, unpaid leave.

But as several lawsuits are now showing, those decisions may have contradicted the wording in employees' employment contracts.

Recent case: Tyler was furloughed when his company ran into COVID trouble. His employment contract guaranteed his salary and said his pay couldn't be changed without his consent. He sued for breach of contract after his employer refused to pay him during the furlough. The company floated two defenses:

* It didn't change his salary when it stopped paying him during the furlough.

* Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, it wasn't obligated to pay him, since the business was closed.

The court was unpersuaded. It said the contract's language was unclear, so the company could not argue in good faith that Tyler's salary remained the same when he...

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