Relations between employees and employers are governed by state, federal, and local law, as well as by any agreements made between the parties.
We work with our clients, both employers and employees, to assure that any contracts they sign protect their interests and are in compliance with the relevant laws.
Employment agreements typically spell out the terms of employment, which may include things such as:
Job description and responsibilities
Benefits, including things such as vacation, sick days, insurance, retirement contributions, etc.
Ownership of materials created by the employee, including intellectual property and assignment of any patents
Grounds for termination of employment
Description of how any disputes would be resolved
Confidentiality of the employer’s proprietary information. (Sometimes a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA) is a separate document and sometimes it is incorporated into an employment agreement.)
Non-Competition, Non-Solicitation and Non-Disparagement Agreements
Additionally, some employment agreements include restrictive provisions such as non-compete, non-solicitation and non-disparagements provisions. For both employers and employees, these agreements require special care.
Employers don’t want employees to be able to take company secrets, knowledge, clients or co-workers to a competitor. Employees want to be able to find new work in their field if they leave the company. Both employers and employees have an interest in not disparaging one another both during and after the employment relationship has ended.
Some states are more reluctant than others to enforce these agreements. When non-compete and other restrictive agreements are enforced by courts, the courts usually look to see if the agreement is “reasonable” in both scope and duration.
We help both employers and employees draft, review and enforce Non-Competition, Non-Solicitation and Non-Disparagement Agreements.
Severance agreements are very common in situations where someone’s employment is involuntarily terminated.
By having terminated employees sign a severance agreement, employers can reduce their risk of being sued later. We help our employer clients make sure their severance agreements protect their interests and comply with all relevant laws.
Severance issues of concern to employees include:
If there are potential grounds for a lawsuit, would it be better to sue?
Amount of severance payment
Payment for accrued benefits, such as vacation or sick pay
Other benefits, such as COBRA
Restrictions in non-compete clauses
Accelerated vesting of stock options
We help our employee clients make sure they understand what they’re signing, so that they don’t give up any rights unknowingly.
Independent Contractor Agreements
When a company hires an independent contractor, there is no legal requirement to have a formal contract – but it’s a very good idea to have one.
For example, when a contractor is creating intellectual property (such as computer code or a website) the client may not have clear ownership rights without a properly drafted contract.
There are also many important legal and tax implications related to whether someone has the legal status of an employee or an independent contractor.
Simply saying that someone is an “independent contractor,” and paying that person without withholding taxes (via a 1099), doesn’t necessarily make that person an independent contractor in the eyes of the law. The person has to actually be treated like a contractor rather than an employee.
We help both employers and contractors understand the legal issues involved in independent contractor status, and in making sure any agreements comply with the relevant laws.