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Employment Contracts

How to ensure settlements are the last word: Ask lawyer to draft all agreements


The last thing you want after settling a discrimination or harassment complaint is for the case to rear its ugly head again. That’s why settlement agreements should include clear language releasing you—the employer—from any further liability. Your best bet: Have your attorney prepare all your settlement agreements to make sure they meet state and federal laws.

Do you need a ‘no forwarding’ e-mail policy?


Here’s a potential electronic communications problem you may not have considered. An employee who forwards e-mail from a company computer and e-mail account to his personal address may end up using those e-mails later in litigation against the company. That’s one reason it makes sense to prohibit employees from forwarding e-mails to their personal e-mail accounts.

Double-check all commission agreements! You could be liable for more than you think


If you pay commissions under a written compensation plan that covers commissions earned only while the employee works for your company, be careful how you handle terminations—and discussion concerning payment of further commissions. In some circumstances, you could inadvertently create additional liability for unpaid commissions …

Review anti-discrimination practices to make sure they cover contract employees, too


Employers sometimes erroneously assume that employees working under a set-term employment contract don’t have any rights once the contract expires. That’s simply not true. In fact, refusing to entertain a contract renewal for a discriminatory reason can be the basis for an employee’s lawsuit.

Are there alternatives to noncompete agreements?


Q. I have certain employees that I don’t want leaving my business to work for a competitor. I am leery about using a noncompetition agreement because I know that courts can be hostile toward them. I understand they can cost a lot of money in legal fees to enforce. Are there any alternatives for me to consider?

Oral agreements may be too vague to be enforceable


Oral agreements are as binding as written ones, but they can be considerably less precise. Consider this case, in which a disgruntled employee claimed an oral agreement affected future compensation:

Draft arbitration agreements as broadly as possible


If your organization uses arbitration agreements to help keep employment disputes out of court, make sure the agreement is drafted to be as broad as possible. Your best bet: Have an attorney write or review the agreement.

Beware promises about schedules, retention that could create an employment contract


Texas is an at-will employment state, which means employers are free to fire employees for any nondiscriminatory reason unless an employment agreement or union contract specifically says otherwise. But what if an employer promises an employee a better schedule or that she’ll be retained for a specific period of time? Does that create a contract, thus jeopardizing at-will status?

Make sure FMLA eligibility form doesn’t create a contract


A federal court has refused to accept the notion that a standard FMLA eligibility form sent to an employee creates a contract.

Check calendar when employee files lawsuit covered by employment agreement


A federal court hearing a North Carolina case has dismissed a discrimination lawsuit based on failure to file that lawsuit within a shortened time limit that the parties had agreed they would use.