Arbitration agreement: Don't bury it in handbook; deliver separate document


Do you require employees to direct employment law complaints through the arbitration process rather than a lawsuit? If so, don’t bury your arbitration agreement deep in your handbook or job application. Instead, present workers with a separate document. As this new case shows, California courts are more likely to find a separate agreement to be binding.

Protect against breach-of-contract claims

Precise language in a settlement agreement helped an employer survive a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by a former employee.

Supreme Court tackles arbitration agreements

One of the first cases the U.S. Supreme Court heard in its 2015-2016 term could have important implications for employers that require arbitration to settle workplace disputes.

Confidential customer lists may be trade secrets even if the names are available elsewhere

Good news if you need to protect your customer lists from competitors: You can require employees to sign confidentiality agreements to block taking customer lists to the next job even if it’s theoretically possible for the competitor or someone else to put together the same information from other, publicly available sources.

Craft noncompete agreements to protect your business interests


Employers often require key employees to sign noncompete agreements ensuring that the employee will not use information or customer contacts gained during the course of employment to benefit a competitor. In return, the employer offers the employee “consideration”—maybe extra pay or, more commonly, access to the protected information, which enables the employee to succeed on the job. Each state has a unique set of laws governing noncompete agreements.

Texas court issues injunction preventing customer poaching

A federal court in Texas has issued an injunction preventing a former salesperson for a plastics company from soliciting customers on behalf of his new employer. The competitor had hired the employee despite a nondisclosure and nonsolicitation agreement he had signed.

Federal court edits noncompete pact

A federal court in Minnesota has invoked Texas law to rewrite a noncompete agreement that it decided was too broad.

Failure to renew contract can be basis for lawsuit

Some employers mistakenly believe that if they offer annual contracts, they can’t be sued for not renewing a contract. That’s just not true if the former employee can prove she wasn’t rehired for a discriminatory reason.

Unspecified commission? Jury decides who to believe

For jobs based on written employment contracts, what the agreement says typically governs all the terms and conditions of employment. If something is unclear or unstated, what the parties do later likely will influence eventual judicial interpretation.

Court: Employee who agrees to arbitration must stick to it

The Court of Appeal of California has reversed a lower court order denying arbitration and ordered the case into arbitration instead.

Broad arb clause can cover bias, retaliation, too

A federal court considering whether a broad arbitration clause included in an employment contract bars discrimination and retaliation claims has concluded it does. That’s good news if you use employment contracts and want to push any subsequent employment-related claims into arbitration.

How should we handle news that employee previously signed a noncompete agreement?

Q. We received a letter from a competitor informing us that our new employee used to work for them and is now in violation of noncompetition agreement with the competitor. What should we do?

Suit filed? Arbitration pact may still work

Employers use arbitration agreements to keep employment-related litigation out of the courts. But what if you don’t have an arbitration agreement in place when former employees file a wage-and-hour class action lawsuit against your company? Can you suddenly spring an arbitration agreement on current employees and expect it to work? Surprisingly, yes, according to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

These rules make arbitration agreements stick

There’s no point in using arbitration agreements if they’re not enforceable. Make sure yours will hold up in court by following these rules.

Court upholds arbitration despite language barrier

A California Court of Appeal has upheld an arbitration agreement written in English and signed by employees with limited language ability.
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