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Employment Contracts

With arbitration under attack, consider right-to-jury-trial waivers

03/11/2010

With the enactment of the Franken Amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act for FY 2010, Congress and the Obama administration have begun an assault on employers’ use of mandatory arbitration as an alternative to court trials for resolving workplace disputes and claims. Employers have been asking whether other alternatives to jury trials will exist in the absence of arbitration. One alternative that companies can consider: entering into waivers of civil jury trials with their employees.

Court removes ‘unconscionable’ parts of arbitration agreement

02/22/2010

Here’s some good news for employers that use arbitration agreements: A California appellate court has ruled that when only part of an arbitration agreement turns out to be invalid because it is “unconscionable,” the rest of the agreement remains intact if the invalid section can easily be removed.

Texas High Court rules arbitration agreements valid despite changing employment conditions

02/12/2010

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that an arbitration agreement presented as a condition of employment is valid even though it was initially drafted by an HR management company that no longer manages personnel matters. The court looked carefully at the arbitration agreement and concluded it was a binding contract—partly because it contained a clause that allowed the employer to end the agreement prospectively only.

Call your attorney! Confidentiality agreements aren’t a do-it-yourself project

01/14/2010

California employers don’t have many options for preventing employees from competing once they move on to another employer. For example, noncompete agreements are illegal here. The courts also look askance at other attempts to restrain competition and prevent former employees from practicing their professions even if such restrictions are temporary.

No money for promised pay raise: Now what?

01/12/2010

Q. Do we have to conduct regular performance appraisals and give annual increases? We told a new hire that we would, but now don’t have time or money to do so.

One benefit of union contract: Lawsuits must be filed fast

01/11/2010

Here’s an upside to having a comprehensive collective-bargaining agreement: Employees who claim they were denied benefits they had been promised can’t sue under Ohio state contract law if the subject of the lawsuit is covered by the union contract.

OK to withhold commissions from employees who violate fiduciary obligations

01/07/2010

The Texas Payday Act allows employees to sue for commissions earned but unpaid after termination. But that doesn’t mean that employees are always owed such commissions. If they violated their fiduciary duty to their employers by disclosing confidential information to a competitor, it’s legitimate to withhold pay.

Do you need a policy barring workers from forwarding e-mails to personal accounts?

01/04/2010

By now, you should have an electronic communications policy and know to block computer access to newly terminated employees. But it’s also wise to prohibit current employees from forwarding e-mails from the company computer to their personal e-mail accounts outside the company.

Employment Contracts

01/03/2010

HR Law 101: Some employers and employees choose to enter into an employment contract. Usually the worker is seeking job security, while the company wants to protect its trade secrets and sales territories. However, if you sign an employment contract, you may find that you’ve given away more than you bargained for …

Design restrictive agreements that protect you—and stick in court

12/15/2009

Do you rely on restrictive agreements (also known as noncompete agreements) to prevent employees from working for the competition and stealing your customers? If so, now is a good time to make sure those agreements will stand up in court.
A recent 11th Circuit Court of Appeals case, Proudfoot Consulting Co. v. Gordon, illustrates the obstacles and complexity that can trip up employers that take former employees to court.