New York City Employee Agreement Attorneys
When you are hired or shortly thereafter, you may be asked to sign an agreement with your new employer. This agreement is very important, as it will detail the terms of your employment: your job duties and your compensation. It will likely also govern what you can and cannot do after you leave that employer, via non-compete, non-solicit and confidentiality provisions. Accordingly, it is strongly advisable to contact the lawyers at Lipsky Lowe to review this agreement before you sign it. In most instances, we will be able to negotiate a better agreement for you.
An employment agreement sets forth the terms and conditions of your employment. This includes:
- Duties and responsibilities of the employee
- Salary and hours, possible bonuses
- Term of employment
- Grounds for termination
- Severance pay and benefits
- Times and lengths of lunch and other permissible breaks
- Days off: holidays, sick days, vacation days, family leave, personal days
While you might think these terms are non-negotiable, it is important to remember that you have leverage: the employer wants to hire you. You should not sign the agreement before consulting with the attorneys at Lipsky Lowe. We have extensive experience negotiating these agreements.
Non-Disclosure Agreement(NDA)/Confidentiality Agreements
When you sign your employment agreement, you may be asked to sign a separate Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), or your agreement my incorporate a confidentiality provision An NDA is designed to protect the employer by keeping the company’s confidential information (e.g. trade secrets and client lists) private. Clearly it is in the best interests of the business with a new concept, invention, or product to keep such sensitive information protected from potential competitors. By the same token, it is important that the employer hold such information close to the vest even within the company, so that other employees, do not, unintentionally or (if disgruntled) maliciously publish protected information..
In most cases, a Confidentiality Agreement is considered to be in force even after the employee leaves the company. NDAs typically have a duration of 2 to 5 years, but usually once the protected information has been made public, the non-disclosure clause ceases to be meaningful or enforceable. If you have any questions regarding NDAs that you are being asked to sign, or that you have already put your name to, you should consult with Lipsky Lowe’s experienced attorneys to find out precisely where the lines are drawn so that you don’t unwittingly put yourself in legal jeopardy.
You may be asked to sign a non-compete agreement as a condition of your employment. In these agreements, the employee agrees not to be employed by a competitor for a certain amount of time and within a certain geographic area after he or she stops working for the employer. Furthermore, the employee typically agrees not to start up a company that will compete with the employer’s business or attempt to lure the employer’s customers away.
While you cannot be forced to sign a non-compete agreement, in some instances signing is a condition of being hired or of advancing in your career path. In most cases, these agreements take effect after you have left your place of employment and are designed to protect the employer from being exploited by an ex-employee.
In order to be considered legally binding, non-compete agreements must meet the following criteria:
- Be reasonable in terms of the time period and geographical area they cover
- Protect a legitimate business interest of the employer
- Provide the employee with a valid consideration (benefit) for complying
Most of the time, courts will not allow a non-competition agreement to prevent an employee from working in any geographical area in which the employer does not presently do business. Depending on the state, if a court finds that a non-competition agreement is too broad in scope, thereby punishing the employee, it will typically narrow the scope and duration of the agreement or refuse to enforce it entirely.
If you are in doubt about where you stand in terms of signing a non-compete, you should have Lipsky Lowe’s experienced employment law attorneys evaluate your situation before you sign any such agreement.
Before you are fired or immediately after, your employer may ask you to sign a severance agreement. The main benefit an employee typically receives in these agreements is the severance. In exchange for this severance, however, the employee often gives away many valuable legal rights. The agreement is, in fact, primarily for the employer’s benefit.
A severance agreement will, for example, likely include a general release of claims known or unknown that will prevent you from suing your employer for any possible cause of action prior to the day you sign the agreement You may also be agreeing never to work for that company, it subsidiaries and affiliates in the future and agreeing not to say anything negative about the company
You should think twice before signing any severance agreement and consult with the experienced employment attorneys at Lipsky Lowe. You may, for example, have a valid legal claim against your former employer that is worth more than the offered severance and our experienced attorneys can use that as leverage to negotiate a greater severance package, or commence litigation.
A note of caution: your Severance Agreement almost certainly contains a provision stating that you understand that the entire agreement is expressed in the document you are signing and that this document supersedes any other written agreements. Sometimes known as a “total agreement clause,” this passage can be damaging to you because it nullifies any other promise or representation your employer has made to you. Even so, you should be aware that this agreement may stipulate that previous agreements restricting your future employment, such as a non-competes, will “survive” your termination. It is always wise to use the time your employer allows for you to sign this document (often a week) to consult with your employment attorney to make sure you are not being taken advantage of.
If you are 40 years or older, you have special protection under the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, an amendment to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, that requires your employer, among other things, to give you at least 21 days (under some circumstances 45 days) to consider signing the Severance Agreement. In any event, before signing you should seek advice from a skilled employment attorney to make certain that you are being treated fairly. We will help you deal with any issues surrounding your dismissal, including wrongful termination and non-payment of, or unfairly devalued, severance pay.
Contact Lipsky Lowe Today
Whatever type of employment agreement you are being asked to sign, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable employment attorney to ensure that signing the document is beneficial, or at least not harmful, to your interests. If you are seeking first-rate legal assistance with any employment matters, please call Lipsky Lowe or fill out the contact form on our Website. With Lipsky Lowe, you have Strength In Your Corner.