Can I be forced to sign a new contract voiding out my present one?

I signed a one page independent contractor agreement with a home care agency last year. Recently I was handed a new 5 page contract to be signed the following day by Fri 5pm or I could not report to my client. The owner said it was short notice because he was just notified he had to have new contracts because he was audited. My present contract(which by date is still valid) states that at the termination of my contract either party must inform in writing 15 days before contract ends if either party wishes to terminate the contract. I refused to sign because I wanted the contract looked over. The owner said I would not be able to work until I signed and I found out a couple hours before the deadline if I waited to Monday my full time client of several months would be reassigned to another contractor. I did not sign because I felt like a had a gun held to my head but I was told out of 100s of home aids I was the only one not to sign. What if any are my legal rights?

2 answers  |  asked Feb 18, 2012 8:21 PM [EST]  |  applies to Florida

Answers (2)

Phyllis Towzey
Unfortunately your damages for early termination would only be the compensation you would have earned for those 15 days if proper notice had been given under the contract.

You note that the reason for the new contract was the fact that the agency was audited, but did not specify whether the audit was internal or through the IRS or the Department of Labor. It's possible that you do not qualify as an independent contractor under IRS or DOL rules. You should contact an attorney to review the matter more thoroughly.

posted by Phyllis Towzey  |  Feb 20, 2012 1:57 PM [EST]
Arthur Schofield
It is hard to say without looking at the existing contraxt, but if the contract has a 15-day notice requirement then it should have been complied with. On the other hand, if you are terminable at will under the contract then your rights expire beyond the 15-day notice. Of course, I cannot comment on the proposed contract without seeing it or knowing its terms. You can contact my office should you have questions.

posted by Arthur Schofield  |  Feb 20, 2012 07:15 AM [EST]

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