Written by Ravi Sattiraju on December 10, 2018
Yes. A solid employment contract should protect you. However, far too many employees simply glance at their employment contract and miss obvious red flags. Below, we will highlight some of the issues you should pay attention to. Please reach out to us for a legal consultation so we can help you consider your options.
Red Flag: There is No Discussion of Why You Can Be Fired
The main benefit of having an employment contract is that you cannot be fired at will. Without an employment contract, an employer can get rid of them at any time and for practically any reason. Your employment contract should explicitly state why you can be terminated, preferably “for cause.” If there is no language to this effect, then you are probably an at-will employee who has few rights.
Red Flag: There are No Start or Stop Dates
Without dates, the “contract” is just an offer letter and not a binding agreement. Make sure that there is a start date and an end date for the contract. Of course, the inclusion of an end date does not mean you automatically stop working. It could mean you will negotiate a new contract at that date.
Red Flag: No Job Description
You need to know what job you are agreeing to. Without a detailed job description, you could suddenly see your job grow as your boss assigns more and more job responsibilities. Without a corresponding increase in pay, you soon could be doing far too much work for too little money. Make sure the contract either contains a job description or refers to one.
Red Flag: An Onerous Noncompete Clause
Many employers want you to agree to not work for a competitor for a period of time if you leave the company. Typically, employers provide a geographic limit (e.g., you can’t work for a competitor within 100 miles) and a time limit (e.g., you can’t start working for a competitor within 12 months).
Noncompete clauses are legal so long as they are reasonable. A noncompete clause that is too broad in scope is illegal, but you should ideally not sign a contract with a broad clause in the first place.
Red Flag: Aggressive Ownership of Intellectual Property
Chances are, you will create intellectual property at any job. For example, anything you write becomes the property of your employer. This is reasonable.
However, some employers try to claim all intellectual property you create even outside of work. This property will include patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Imagine you write a novel on your own time. Do you want your boss to own that? Closely scrutinize any discussion of intellectual property to see that your employer is not claiming more than they are entitled to.
Why You Need a New Jersey Employment Contract Attorney
If you notice any contract language that is unfair, you need to push back on it before signing. At the Sattiraju Law Firm, we can negotiate with an employer so that your contract is fairer and more reasonable. With a freshly-negotiated contract, you can start working confidently that your rights are being protected.
Please contact us today. You can schedule an initial consultation by calling 609-722-7039.