The majority of employees who are hired throughout the Austin area do not have specific employee contracts that outline their rights and responsibilities; instead, most employees in Austin are “at-will.” An at-will employee is an employee that can be terminated at the will of the employer with, or without cause. When an employment contract is entered into, on the other hand, the dynamic between employer-employee changes and the employee is no longer “at-will.” Before an employee enters an employment contract, it is highly advisable that they consult with an experienced employment law attorney who can provide guidance and advice before anything is signed. At the Law Office of Jeffrey A. Goldberg, our Austin employee contracts lawyer is available to represent you. Please call our law firm today for a free case evaluation today.
Is the document an Employee Contract?
The first step for the Austin attorney is to determine if the employee actually has an employment contract, or not. Many times employees think an offer letter outlining pay, benefits, position and start date constitutes an employment contract. It may constitute an employment contract, but many times the offer letter does not make it an employment contract. That depends on the specific language in the document, which needs to be reviewed by your Austin Employment attorney.
An offer letter may be an employment contract and contain different provisions including:
- Executive compensation packages. High-level executives may be offered executive compensation packages at the time of hire. These packages may include information about base salary, bonuses, deferred compensation, stock options, restricted shares, and other types of compensation.
- Non-compete and non-solicit agreements. It is very common for employers to require employees to sign these types of agreements, either before hire, and even after being hired. It is extremely important to have such documents reviewed before you sign them because these types of agreements would limit your ability to compete after you leave a company. Such limitations could prevent you from working for years after you separate employment in a similar line of business , or competing business. A non-solicit agreement is similar to a non-compete agreement and prohibits the employee from soliciting employees to go to work for another company.
- Duration of employment. In order to be an employment contract, there needs to be some specific information about the duration of employment. For example, an employee may be hired for a 1 year period with the contract renewing if both parties agree.
- Grounds for termination. An employee contract will include information about when an employee can and cannot be terminated. Often, the contract will include language that states that the employee can be terminated for “good cause.” Remember, without an employment contract, an employee can be terminated at any time for any reason (but not for illegal reasons].
- Confidentiality agreements. Companies also require new employees, or prospective employees, to sign a confidentiality agreement. These documents serve to protect the employee from disclosing the company’s proprietary or confidential information. This information would include protecting against disclosing company trade secrets, or intellectual property, and may prohibit the employee from sharing any of the company’s internal information externally.
Physician Employment Contracts
physicians typically do have standard employment contracts. These contracts cover a wide range of topics including medical practice issues and specific reasons that would allow the employer to terminate the contract. In addition, such contracts detail how compensation, bonuses and costs are to be calculated. It is important for the physician to have a Board- Certified Labor and Employment attorney in Austin that represents physicians and employees to review these types of employment contracts.
a severance agreement is an employment contract that is offered to employees when they separate employment. These are legal documents, drafted by the company attorney, which would require the employee to release all legal rights and claims against the company in exchange for money. Sometimes it is possible to negotiate with the company on the amount of money offered in a severance based upon any practical or legal leverage the employee may have. In addition, the company will only provide you a short time period to have the document reviewed with an attorney. It is critical that you have the document reviewed by a Board Certified Labor and Employment attorney in Austin to help you assess your legal rights and obligations, as well as the company’s obligations and to assess whether you may have any legal or practical leverage.
Why You Should Consult with an Employee Contracts Attorney
Whether you are being hired for a new job, or getting a severance when you separate a job, before you sign anything, you should consult with an employee contracts attorney. Signing an employee contract without fully understanding the small print, so to speak, can be costly long-term. In fact, you may be giving up certain rights, or limiting yourself in the future. Non-compete agreements can be especially worrisome and are often not appropriate in an employee contract. What’s more, you may have negotiating power that you are unaware of – an attorney can assist you in negotiating and evaluating your contract, or severance agreement, to help you understand your rights, obligations and opportunities.
Representing Employees Following the Breach of an Employee Contract
In addition to representing Austin-based employees and executives who are entering into an employee contract, our experienced Austin employee contracts lawyer can also provide representation to employees who believe that their employee contracts have been violated or breached, or review a severance agreement. In addition, sometimes employers will file a lawsuit against a former employee for violating non-compete agreements. You need an attorney who represents employees to help you review and assess any employment contract, non-compete agreement or severance to protect your legal rights.
Call the Law Office of Jeffrey A. Goldberg Today
At the Law Office of Jeffrey A. Goldberg, our experienced Austin employee contracts attorney understands how much is on the line when you’re entering a contract, as well as how challenging it can be to speak up about your rights and your options. When you hire our law firm, you’ll benefit from experienced, knowledgeable, and dedicated legal representation when you need it most. Our law firm has years of experience under its belt and experience representing both employees and employers, providing a unique perspective. To learn more, please call our law firm today at (512) 598-4147 for a consultation or send us a message telling us more about how we can be of service to you.