This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
A contract of employment for a fixed term, the compensation to be paid in installments at certain intervals during the term of employment, is usually held to be entire, so that in case of breach by the employe, no recovery can be had on the contract.1 If compensation is not payable at intervals the contract is even more clearly an entire one. So under a contract by a teacher to teach for nine months at forty-five dollars per pupil, he cannot recover on the contract if he teaches for only eight months and a half.2 The question of the right to recover in quasi contract in such cases is discussed elsewhere.3 The question of the entirety of a contract is also presented in determining whether a separate action can be brought for each breach. An employe who is wrongfully discharged, has a choice of remedies; all of them, according to the view entertained by the majority of the courts, are based upon the theory that the contract is an entire one. He may ignore the contract, and sue in quantum meruit for the services already rendered.4 Choosing this remedy bars an action on the contract for damages, to which the employe is otherwise entitled.5 Since this action upon the contract for damages is on an entire contract, the employe must bring one action and must therein recover all the damages arising to him out of such breach.6 If he recovers a judgment after the breach for the value of his services for a short period of time thereafter, such judgment is a bar to any future recovery for breach of such contract.7 Some courts have entertained a contrary theory, treating the contract as in legal effect as severable, and allowing the employe to recover each installment of wages as it would have come due under the contract had it not been broken, under the theory of constructive services.8 The English cases at first took the latter view,9 but the early cases were subsequently overruled,10 and the view that only one action would lie was finally adopted. The theory of constructive services is, however, contrary to a fundamental principle of Modern Law, namely, that the injured party must take all reasonable steps to mitigate damages. If an employe is discharged during the performance of his contract for cause, he may recover for the services rendered by him less the amount of damage which his misconduct has caused to his employers.11
24 Montgomery County v. Emigrant Co., 47 la. 91.
25Aultman, etc., Co. v. Latoson, 100 la. 569; 69 N. W. 865.
1 Employment for a year: wages payable monthly. Liddell v. Chi-dester, 84 Ala. 508; 5 Am. St. Rep. 387; 4 So. 426; Larkin v. Heeksher, 51 N. J. L. 133; 3 L. R. A. 137; 16 Atl. 703. Employment for a year at a certain sum per week; wages payable weekly. Olmstead v. Bach, 78 Md. 132; 44 Am. St. Rep. 273; 22 L. R. A. 74; 27 Atl. 501.
2 Hill v. Balkcom, 79 Ga. 444; 5 S. E. 200.
3 See Ch. LXXIV. Employment for six months certain at eleven dollars per month. Larkin v. Buck, 11 O. S. 561.