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Breach of contract, corporate prevention lawsuit issues settled

Contract disputes in Georgia can come in all shapes and sizes. Some involve wage and hour claims, while others may involve disputes about overtime pay or a perceived violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Sometimes an employer comes to a determination that it must part ways with an employee, and that decision can be complicated by the fact that customers of the company identify the employee with the employer. These decisions require a balancing act between honoring the terms of any written contract, honoring legal obligations as an employer and also mollifying a public that is wondering what the heck is going on.

Earlier this year, a Georgia television station fired a weatherman it had employed since 1989. The news came as a bit of a shock since the employee was said to have just signed a renewal contract through February 2014, and his stated intention was to finish his career with the employer. The employer rightfully declined to discuss the matter publicly concerning its employee.

In June, the ex-employee filed a lawsuit for breach of contract, a move not unexpected given the nature of these matters. The lawsuit claimed extreme emotional distress and also alleged the employer fired him knowing that his employment options would be "very limited due to several factors."

A settlement was announced, the details of which were largely confidential by written agreement. It was noted that the non-compete clause had been lifted, so that any issue of corporate prevention of the man's right to other employment was resolved. As a result the weatherman is back in business, working for another local television station in what appears to be a supporting role.

Employment issues are often complex and involve sensitive matters that the employer must resolve while also keeping an eye on the stability of its business. A Georgia attorney experienced in all aspects of contract disputes in business and commercial law may offer some sage advice and help achieve optimal results.

Source: The Ledger-Enquirer, "Kurt Schmitz settles suit with WTVM," Jim Mustian, Sept. 28, 2011

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