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Employment Contracts

Don’t cut severance if it violates written contract


Q. We need to change our severance policy, mostly due to declining business conditions. Can we reduce the severance amounts cited in employment agreements with certain staff as long as we notify them of the change? —J.C., Illinois

Don’t conspire with competitors to freeze workers out of a job

Never agree with another company to refrain from hiring each other’s employees unless your workers and the other company’s workers sign the agreement. Reason: …

ADEA: Prevent fastest growing, most expensive type of bias

Expensive mistake Median award by type of bias: ’94-’00 cases Age $268,926, Disability 175,001, Race 120,951, Sex 100,000. Source: Jury Verdict Research …

You can’t shave employee’s bonus just because she took FMLA leave

When the company Valerie Dierlam worked for was sold, the acquiring firm offered her a bonus of half her salary if she stayed for one year. She did, but the …

Offer Letters Are OK If Crafted With Care


Q. Our company has typically sent formal offer letters to job candidates for certain positions. Could such letters legally bind us, and would we be smarter to avoid them? —S.T., Texas

Don’t stack the deck in arbitration

Daniel Murray, a full-time union organizer, signed a mandatory arbitration agreement as a condition of employment. The pact said arbitrators would be chosen from a list provided by his employer and …

Draft bulletproof waiver deals with 6 court-approved benchmarks

Courtney Melanson suffered two years of unwanted sexual advances by her supervisor at Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI). She took medical leave due to the stress and, when she returned, BFI assigned her …

Indemnify a Noncompete? Not So Fast


Q. We want to hire an individual who signed a noncompete with his current employer. He asked us to indemnify him in the event his employer sues him. What are the legal risks associated with agreeing to indemnify him? —V.M., Virginia

Ease strict noncompete pacts or risk wrongful discharge claim

As part of a merger, Aetna U.S. Healthcare required employees to sign an agreement barring them from working for a competitor in the same state for two years or any competitor …

High court: EEOC can circumvent arbitration pacts

In another highly anticipated decision, the Supreme Court ruled last month that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can file lawsuits on behalf of workers who had previously given up …