Do You Know What’s In Your Employment Or Severance Agreement?
Most Americans have become conditioned to signing agreements without reading them carefully and just trusting that the terms are fair (and non-negotiable). This may be an acceptable strategy for product user agreements, but it shouldn’t be how you approach an employment contract or severance agreement.
Unfortunately, however, many people sign these important agreements without much scrutiny because they don’t fully understand the provisions they are reading; nor do they realize they may be able to negotiate the terms. Before you sign something that could significantly impact your finances or employment duties, it’s a good idea to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney. In San Diego, the firm to call is the Law Offices of Matthew G. English.
Employment Contract Provisions Can Be Very Limiting
Not everyone has the leverage to negotiate a contract. Lower-level employees often can’t. But if you’ve climbed the corporate ladder and can afford to walk away from a bad offer, it is worth hiring an attorney to help you parse the terms of the agreement and what their implications might be.
As an experienced employment attorney, I’ll advise you on all provisions of the agreement, including things like:
- Exclusive employment clauses – It is common for workers to “moonlight” or have a “side hustle” these days, but an exclusivity clause could prohibit you from doing similar work for another business in your free time.
- Arbitration clauses – These are a potential red flag because they require you to resolve any employment dispute with your employer through arbitration rather than litigation. In many cases, employers choose the arbitrator and other factors, stacking the odds in their favor.
- Ownership of inventions – If your job entails creating intellectual property or other creative work, a clause like this could ensure that you don’t own anything you create while working for the company.
These are just a few examples of many potential problems that you need to be aware of. Hopefully, you can see why it’s critical to have an attorney help you understand what you are being asked to sign.
Severance Agreements: Leaving On Better Terms
Severance agreements are often framed as a gesture of goodwill, which might make you hesitant to negotiate the terms. But companies don’t offer severance agreements unless they are getting something valuable in return – usually a promise not to sue them for any reason or to disparage the company publicly.
If you’ve been offered severance, you likely pose some kind of perceived threat to the prosperity of the company. As such, you should understand that you have leverage to negotiate better terms – higher compensation or access to benefits, for instance. At the very least, you should consult with an attorney to make sure the agreement doesn’t contain any provisions that could hinder your future opportunities for employment with another company.
Your employer is legally required to give you a reasonable amount of time to consider the agreement before signing. It would be wise to use that time to speak with an attorney like me.
Contact Me Today To Discuss Your Options
The Law Offices of Matthew G. English serves clients in and around San Diego, California. I offer free initial consultations to discuss your legal needs and how I can help you. To schedule yours, just send me an email or call 619-826-8236.