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Employment Contracts

Do all noncompetes have to be the same?

Q. We have an employee who is returning to work for us after having worked for a competitor. Nor­mally, we require new employees to agree to a noncompete, with a 15-mile-radius restriction. In this case, we’d like to extend the area to a 30-mile zone around our facility. Can we have a different arrangement with her than the one we have with our other employees?

Get expert help drafting arbitration agreements

Don’t give in to the temptation to save money by writing your own arbitration agreements or using a standard template available from many arbitration services. Instead, have your attorney review your organization’s unique needs and draft a custom agreement.

When executive wants to ease into retirement, can we insist on a ‘retirement contract’?

Q. An executive wants to retire in one year and gradually reduce her schedule until then. Our business needs don’t allow us to have this executive role be part-time on a long-term basis. Can we approve this request on the condition that the executive sign an agreement binding her to retire within one year?

How noncompete agreements can legally protect your interests

Employers often insist that key employees sign noncompete agreements to ensure the employee will not use information or customer contacts gained during the course of employment to benefit a competitor. Several states have recently changed their laws governing noncompetes. In other states, courts have responded to unusual sets of facts to render surprising decisions.

Make note if employee actually requests arbitration

Arbitration agreements with onerous terms are sometimes struck down under California contract law. But in some cases, courts will grant arbitration anyway.

Ensure arbitration agreements are fair, reasonable

If you intend to use arbitration as a way to manage employment discrimination claims and avoid court, make sure the agreement is reasonable. The more one-sided the agreement appears, the more likely a court will rule it unconscionable and unenforceable.

Arbitration agreement should stand on its own, separately from employee handbook

Even if an arbitration agreement is fair and evenhanded enough to meet California standards, employers still have to clear the hurdle of showing that employees knew about the policy and agreed to it. That means making sure that employees actually read the document—or at least sign off that they did or had the opportunity to do so.

Use plain English in your severance agreements


Employers can offer severance payments to older workers they plan to terminate in exchange for a release of age discrimination claims. But the severance agreement must comply with the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act in order to stick. To comply with OWBPA, the agreement must be written clearly and simply enough that the employee can understand what he is signing.

Texas Supreme Court relaxes rules on noncompete agreements

A new Texas Supreme Court ruling on covenants not to compete is good news for employers. The court’s decision in Marsh USA v. Cook moved away from technical questions of contractual enforceability and emphasized the core question of whether the scope of such covenants is reasonable.

Public employees’ contracts don’t provide ‘property interest’

Texas public employees who work under a contract don’t have a property interest in that job once the contract expires. That means they can’t sue for deprivation of property.