Employment contracts can control the beginning – and end – of an employment relationship. When a company first hires you, they might ask you to sign a stack of papers, including contracts, agreements, covenants not to compete, and more. These agreements can impact not only your compensation, but also how and when the company can fire you and even what you can do after you leave the company. These documents can affect your career and income for years. You should understand fully any employment agreement before signing.
Another thing to consider before signing is whether to try to negotiate for a better deal. The best time to negotiate confidentiality, non-compete and non-solicitation agreements is usually when you’re negotiating the other terms of your employment – not at the end when your employment relationship has gone awry.
Our attorneys have years of experience advising clients and negotiating employment contracts, such as:Executive employment agreements
- Executive employment agreements
- Non-competition agreements
- Non-solicitation agreements
- Non-disclosure agreements
- Severance & separation agreements
- Mandatory arbitration
Executive Employment Agreements
Employment agreements for corporate executives can be complex. These agreements include complicated compensation structures and post-employment restrictions that could have lasting implications on your career: Forfeiture clauses; restrictive covenants; claw-backs; non-ERISA vs ERISA plans. Many of our clients, while experts in their field, recognize that the assistance of an experienced attorney is invaluable when negotiating their own executive employment agreements.
These agreements usually outline terms in effect during in employment – like compensation and benefits – but also terms for ending the employment relationship – like “for cause” termination clauses. Compensation packages can include a variety of deferred compensation plans, such as stock option plans, profit-share plan, non-qualified plans, and defined benefits / pension plans. An agreement with a “golden parachute” may also have “golden handcuffs” where you can lose important long-term benefits.
An executive employment agreement also may include a built-in severance package, where the value of the executive’s severance depends on why the executive leaves the company. Almost certainly an executive employment agreement will include terms restricting the executive’s post-employment options to compete for business, to solicit employees, and to use or disclose corporate trade secrets.
If you’re about to negotiate an executive employment agreement, don’t go in alone. Contact our experienced and tenacious lawyers to talk about negotiating the best possible agreement for you.
Employment agreements may contain covenants not to compete, which restrict your employment options upon separation. Generally speaking, it’s not illegal – or uncommon - for a company to ask its employees to sign a non-compete agreement after hiring them. Whether that new agreement is enforceable may depend on several issues. Before signing a new agreement, talk with a lawyer to learn your rights, obligations and options.
A poorly drafted non-competition clause, such as one that is overbroad or reaches further than the law allows, can stop you from working. And a company may erroneously accuse you of breaching a non-compete clause when, in fact, you have not.
A non-compete agreement must be reasonable in time and geographic scope. It cannot restrict the employee’s right to compete for too long. It cannot restrict the employee’s right to compete in too large a geographical area. The restrictions must be designed to protect a legitimate purpose, such as confidential information and customer relationships.
Each state has its own laws regarding covenants not to compete, also called “restrictive covenants.” Although the states’ laws are generally similar, they are not identical. Talk with a lawyer licensed in your state to learn how the law applies to your situation.
Under a non-solicitation agreement – also known as a “no poach” agreement -- an employee agrees not to “solicit” the company’s other employees to leave the company. A non-solicitation clause could also refer to an employee’s agreement not to “solicit” the company’s clients or customers or to encourage them to leave the company. But what happens if a current company employee solicits a former employee? Or if a current company client reaches out to a former company employee? The facts of your situation, and the law of your state, will influence what a former employee can and cannot do after signing a non-solicitation agreement.
Successful separation negotiations aren’t just about severance pay. Although we always want to maximize benefits for our client, a good separation agreement also looks to minimize the impact of the separation on your future and give significant immediate value in the transition to new employment. We can enhance your future employability by limiting disparaging information that the employer or its managers may be prepared to tell prospective employers. When negotiating, we consider how we can script the optics of your departure from the company, address how your departure will be announced, and resolve concerns about confidentiality.
A well-negotiated separation agreement can lead to extended benefits, such as health insurance, life insurance, extended time “on the rolls” while looking for a job, unemployment compensation, positive references, a clean record, attorney fees, and clear answers on how to answer sticky questions when applying for a license or seeking a secret or top secret security clearance.
Whether you are starting an employment relationship or ending one, if you want to know your options and get solid legal advice, contact us for an initial consultation.