How are employment contracts handled in New York?
The overwhelming majority of employment opportunities in the United States are filled on what is referred to as an ‘at will’ basis. This means that either the employee or the employer can terminate the work relationship at will, with no notice required on either side. If you accept a job without signing an employment contract, you are an ‘at-will’ employee, but if you have a completed employment contract, you have very different rights if your employer decides to try and mistreat you.
Positives & Negatives
An employee who has a contract is much more protected from discrimination than an at-will employee is, simply because a contract provides specific protections. If an employer decides to terminate their employee or take what is called ‘negative employment action’ against them, the employee may not only have a claim for discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (or the comparable local equivalent) – they will usually also be able to file suit for breach of contract.
That said, there are positives and negatives to having an employment contract. While you do have certain protections against unlawful termination or negative employment action, you are also locked into a contract, with no ability to seek a raise or an alteration in your situation without renegotiating your entire contract, which can be extremely time-consuming. Contracts may also impose more restrictions on you after your employment ends – for example, many require a non-compete agreement, which is an agreement for the employee to not work in a certain area or a certain field for a period of time after their termination.
Specialized Employee Agreements
In addition to the standard type of employment contract, there are other types of agreements between employers and employees that fall under this aegis, and all of them must adhere to the same principles of federal, state, and local antidiscrimination law. Nondisclosure or confidentiality agreements (NDAs) are some of the most common – agreements that restrict a former employee from sharing company secrets or other confidential material with competitors. While they are generally legal, NDAs must not be overly broad, and must generally be offered to the employee at the beginning of their employment, rather than the end.
Regardless of the type of employment agreement, it is crucial to remember that contracts are legally binding, and if your employer fails to honor their part of the bargain, you do have several options in filing suit to seek compensation. You may file a wrongful termination claim, if the facts apply; you may file for breach of contract, or if you believe that your employer acted maliciously, you may be able to file for tortious interference with business relations. Regardless, these claims can get quite complex and having an experienced attorney on your side is always a good idea.
Call A New York Employment Discrimination Attorney
The majority of average workers do not have employment contracts, but if you do, it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with it and its requirements. If you believe that you have been the victim of a breach of contract, or other types of mistreatment by your employer, contacting a New York City employment discrimination attorney from Mansell Law, LLC is a good idea. Call us today at 646-921-8900 to speak to an attorney.