QUESTION

Does a new contract that supersedes all other contracts trump an irrevocabled clause in a contract in effect at the time of breach?

Asked on Mar 18th, 2017 on Breach of Contract - New Jersey
More details to this question:
In lieu of a raise 20 years ago, I negotiated a clause in my contract that my current reimbursement package could never be deminished. The clause was self renewing and irrevocabled. The group has since developed a new position that they need to fund. They said I'm the highest paid in the group so they took part of my bonus package which I consider irrevocabled to pay for this new position. The president gave me 3 options.. accept new contract, get fired, or get fired and receive new contract. I accepted new contract to avoid a tarnished record after being with this group for 34 years. I feel I was coerced into signing the new contract and want the annual bonus they took from me.
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Answered on Mar 20th, 2017 at 11:13 AM
There is no such thing as an irrevocable clause, but also no such thing as a contract which allows one party unilaterally to modify it (such a contract would be considered illusory).  You agreed to revoke the clause.  The question is whether your agreement to the modification is void because it was made under duress, and legally I think you have a very tough case.  Your claim would not be based on physical duress (nobody held a literal gun to your head) but rather what is known as economic duress.  I'm not sure whether the clause on which you're relying also prevented you from ever being fired, or ever being fired without cause.  If not, there is nothing wrong with saying that you'lll be fired if you don't accept the new contract.  Even if you couldn't be fired under your old contract, generally you can't void a contract for economic duress if you could have gone to court to avoid the duress in the first place, which seems to be the case here.  I think this claim is weak, but I wonder if you can sustain a claim based on age discrimination?  I don't know the underlying facts about whether younger employees have been treated better, but this might be an avenue to pursue.
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