When a company in Washington, D.C., offers you an employment contract, you want to believe that the document is mutually beneficial. While it should protect you from unfair actions and assure the company that you plan to be a good employee, making the assumption that the contract does this could get you into a tight spot.
The obligations of an employer and employee should be absolutely clear in the contract signed. Even so, there may be gray areas that leave a person wondering if an action may violate the terms that have been agreed to. Reading the fine print and scouring the clauses for vague language may provide the answer, but if an issue such as confidentiality is not mentioned, the employer’s rights in holding the employee accountable may not be valid.
Many Washington, D.C., residents, at some point in their lives, will be asked to sign an employment contract. For example, it could be a non-compete agreement, a severance package, a commission plan, a non-disclosure agreement or many other types of employment contracts. However, what workers may not know is that these contracts are often drawn up in a way that protects the employer's interests, not the employee's. Moreover, these contracts could have provisions that can negatively impact a worker's future.
Washington, D.C., residents may be interested to hear that recently, based on a joint report by the White House and the Treasury Department, the White House called on states to reform non-compete agreements. Why do so?
For some Washington, D.C. residents who have been diligently seeking employment, finally having a job offer is something to celebrate. When being offered a job, a worker may be given an employment contract to sign. However, workers in situations like this should not be hasty, but should make sure they look for key clauses that could have a major effect on their employment.
When employees in Washington, D.C. enter into an employment contract, they naturally expect that the terms of the contract will be fair. However, oftentimes employment contracts are written in a manner that favor the employer and protect the employer's interests, rather than the employee's. Therefore, contract disputes can sometimes occur either during the course of a person's employment, or if the employee is let go from his or her job.
As discussed on this blog in the past, most employment in the nation is "at-will." This means that an employer does not need any particular reason to fire a worker -- he or she could do so on a whim. That, however, doesn't mean the employer can break the law. In fact, one big exception to the at-will doctrine is wrongful discharge. For workers in Washington, D.C. who do not have an express employment contract, common law has established that a wrongful discharge claim may exist under an implied contract.
Workers in Washington, D.C., may one day find themselves in need of extended time off due to a serious health condition or to care for an ill child, parent or spouse suffering a serious health condition. They may wonder if their job will be in jeopardy if they take the needed time off. However, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible workers with the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, upon which their return to work, they must be reinstated in their former job or an equivalent one. Moreover, their employer must continue to provide health care benefits while the employee is on FMLA leave.
While employment agreements are usually entered into in order to protect both the employee and the employer's interests, in fact employment contracts in Washington, D.C., can be very complex. In this next series of posts, we will go over various provisions that may be present in an employment contract.