You’ve probably been told that you should never sign a contract before you’ve read it, and that’s very true. But as a non-attorney, contracts can be confusing, and that is especially true of non-compete or employment contracts that make heavy use of terms with which you may not be familiar. With a job offer in hand, does it make sense to have an attorney review a non-compete or employment contract you’ve been asked to sign? Will asking for the time to have an attorney review the contract jeopardize your job offer?
There are few contracts that are more important to understand than a contract related to your job. Think about the percentage of your waking hours you’ll spend at work and the years that you hope to be in a company’s employ and that should make clear the importance of understanding the terms under which they plan to hire you. Having your attorney – who is most interested in your best interests – review such a contract is a smart decision.
Though employment agreements are clearly written for the protection of an employer, they are also supposed to be fair, reasonable, and above all, legal. Your attorney will review the terms to make sure that they reflect the offer that was originally discussed, including important elements such as salary, benefits, and time off. Perhaps most importantly, your attorney will also make clear to you what you are agreeing to in terms of your rights if you eventually decide to move on to a new job. An unfortunate number of companies have started adding contract terms that effectively preclude their employees from working in the same industry or geographic location for unreasonable periods of time or preclude you from filing discrimination claims against them in lieu of mandatory arbitration. It is much better to know about these terms, and potentially negotiate more even-handed language before you begin working, than to sign such a document and be contractually obligated to it.
Having an experienced employment attorney review the terms of an employment or noncompete agreement before you begin working will protect your best interests. If you find yourself feeling intimidated into signing prior to having a chance for legal review, you should consider that an indication of exactly how important it is to make sure that the terms you are being offered are fair. To set up a time to come in and have a careful review of any document you’ve been asked to sign, call our office today.