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Employment clauses to beware, Part 1

You may not have read your employment contract but you should. Employment contracts contain a multitude of terms. In fact, you may not even realize that you signed an employment contract. Employee handbooks are a type of contract that is just as binding as any other contract. This post will go over some of the more common clauses and how they may affect you.

Confidentiality agreements are standard fare in most employee relationships. The employer often folds these clauses into the contract or employee handbook. Confidentiality agreements prevent you from discussing any trade secrets, processes or other information gleaned during employment with anyone outside of the company.

Non-competition clauses are inserted into contracts to restrict the ability of employees to quit working for one company and get hired at rival companies in the same industry. These agreements are designed to prevent the poaching of employees solely for the purpose of obtaining secret information.

These agreements are limited as to the geographic scope and time during which they apply. If the non-compete clause is too broad, the court will invalidate or modify it to bring it into conformity.

Many people are often surprised that their ideas or inventions created on the job are owned by the employer, not by them. Companies, in particular for jobs that regularly invent things, often require their employees to sign agreements that affirmatively state that any inventions are owned by the corporation, not the person. But you often receive a share of the royalties in exchange for the ownership.

If you are trying to invalidate an entire or a portion of an employment contract, then you may want to speak to an attorney. Invalidating contracts are not straightforward, but it is possible. It is a complicated process that will require the attorney to review the entire agreement with you, including the particular circumstances surrounding the signing. There are a number of ways to rescind the contract, many of them not obvious. A lawyer can help you identify these methods to ensure that you present your best arguments to the court.

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