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Employment Contracts

An unsigned contract can still be legally binding

Issue: Some courts consider agreements, signed or unsigned, to be valid, binding contracts.
Risk: A manager’s verbal promise could lock your company into legal agreements it must follow …

Avoid making promises that become job contracts

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Use telecommuters? Defuse 5 main lawsuit threats

Telecommuting is popular with employers and employees. Com-panies with telecommuting programs can realize productivity gains, im-proved morale …

Don’t make promises the company might not keep

Issue: Courts will make your company follow through on oral promises you make about benefits.
Risk: You or an ill-informed manager could inadvertently force your company to provide benefits it …

Require staff to arbitrate disputes; court upholds ‘partially legal’ pact

Don’t be leery of requiring employees to sign mandatory arbitration agreements. As the following ruling shows, even if a court disagrees with part of your agreement, …

Give employees advance notice of severance plans, waivers

Don’t spring severance-plan details on employees right before a layoff. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) says you must give employees advance notice …

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 …