Employment contracts 101

Employment law is a complex area, but generally, the laws favor the employer over the employee.  Be weary of signing agreements that give you little recourse in the event of a breach.  For example watch out for–

  1. Covenants not to compete.  These may be in sales contracts, or other industries that rely heavily on a book of clients.   For example, the contract may have you promise not to work for a competitor for a period of two years, and may also limit the geographic area you can work in for a competitor.
  2. Temporary employment contracts that are strictly at will.  These contracts may have you promise that you understand the nature of the employment is at will and can be ended at any time by either party.  Alabama and Georgia are “at will ” states, meaning, if your employer doesn’t like the color shirt you have on that day, you could be fired.  Literally.  They do not have to show a reason.  You do have protections for discrimination based on age, race, sex, religious belief, etc., under Title 7,  but these types of claims are very time consuming, and difficult to prove.

There are some employee friendly states in which case law precedents have accorded the employee  a reasonable time to demonstrate his/her ability to do the job..i.e. 90 days.  In addition, the “at will” nature of an employment agreement has exceptions and an enforceable contract may be formed:

  • Where the employer has made some assurance of job security, the act of relocating to accept an offer creates an implied contract.
  • When circumstances surrounding the formation of the contract, such as resignation of old employment and relocation, are legal precedents to conclude that there is an enforceable contract.
  • When the circumstances surrounding the employment agreement are fraudulent
  • When the employee has relied on a promise of employment to his/her detriment and injustice can be avoided by enforcing the contract

Overall, your outlook should be cheerful and exciting when you embark on a new job.  Be the best you!  But also be aware of your rights, and be cautious.

Disclaimer: This blog is Commentary Only and nothing here is to be interpreted as legal advice, solicitation, or any claim that the quality of legal services offered by The Keli R. Edwards Law Office, LLC is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. I welcome your feedback and comments!