Yes. Yes. A thousand times Yes!
I know that you just received a new job offer and things seem all warm and fuzzy. I know that you do not want to start things off on the wrong foot with your new employer. I also know that many people have come to me after working years for an employer, only to find that they signed away significant rights when they executed that seemingly innocent employment contract.
Many bright eyed and bushy tailed new employees do not even read their employment contracts, let alone have it reviewed by an attorney. I assure you that their prospective employers have had an attorney review, or probably draft, the employment contracts to ensure that the employers’ interests are protected.
Issues that an attorney can help you understand about your new job:
1. North Carolina is an “At-Will” employment state, which means unless your written contract says otherwise, your employer can fire you “at will” (sometimes for no good cause at all). Try to get some job security written into your employment contract by adding start dates and end dates. Have your attorney give you some language that will ensure your employer will only fire you for cause, or at least that you will get some type of severance package if you are let go without good cause.
2. Make sure that your employer’s oral promises are encapsulated in your employment agreement. Most of the time, if your benefits are not your employer’s obligation under the contract, then they can change it at their whim.
3. Thoroughly understand any language that appears to limit your ability to get another job AFTER this job ends. I dread having to tell a client that they are severely limited in finding another job in their field because that employment contract they signed ten years ago has an enforceable non-competition clause or non-solicitation clause.
4. Are you restricted to work for this employer only? Employment contracts often limit or restrict moonlighting. This can cause serious problems if your family is in need of extra cash, but you are not allowed to earn extra money.
5. Who owns your work product? Most of the time, your employer owns your inventions and ideas that you have come up with while you are on the job. It is important that you clarify in your employment contract any projects or inventions that you have worked on prior to your new job or that you plan on completing outside of business hours.6. What happens if your employer is sold? Try and ensure that you have protection is built into your employment contract.
If you have a new job with an employment contract, you should consider scheduling a meeting with our highly qualified attorneys to ensure you know what you are getting into.