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Severance / Contracts / Non-Competes

Attorneys Representing Employees in New York City and Long Island

Most executives and professionals, as well as employees with special skills that are in demand, have employment contracts. These are written agreements specifying rights and obligations for both the employer and the employee. An employment contract may specify your salary, your benefits, the term of employment or whether it is “at will,” and the basis upon which you can be fired. If you are concerned about an employment contract issue, such as severance or a non-compete clause, you should consult the New York City employment contract lawyers at Gerstman Schwartz.

Employment Contracts

Employment is generally at will in New York, which means that even an arbitrary termination may occur. However, there are exceptions, including when an employee has an employment agreement that specifies a term of employment or that provides that a termination can only be for “just cause.” Employment contracts have both advantages and disadvantages. Through an employment contract, an employer can force an employee to stay in a position that is not working or that does not pay enough. It can be difficult for an employee to break a contract if he or she gets offered a better job elsewhere or if his or her work is not being valued at a high enough rate of compensation.

Moreover, an employment contract may include non-compete clauses that restrict you from using your skills at another place of employment after your employment ends, or non-solicitation clauses that prevent you from soliciting clients or employees of an employer after you leave. Employment contracts often set forth when and how disagreements will be handled. Often, employment contracts specify that binding arbitration will be used. Our employment contract attorneys can help New York City or Long Island employees understand their agreement.

If you are a union member, you may be subject to a collective bargaining agreement between the union and the employer. This collective bargaining agreement is similar to an employment contract, in that it will specify pay, wage calculation, working conditions, leave policies, grievance procedures, and benefits information.

Severance Pay

Neither state nor local law requires that an employer provide severance pay after terminating an employee. Instead, severance pay is only mandated if the employment contract provides for it, there was a promise to pay it, or the employer offers it. Sometimes an employer offers severance pay when it is possible that the employee will bring a potentially valid discrimination or harassment lawsuit. If the employer does offer severance, they will expect that you sign a severance agreement waiving any potential claims that you might have against the company. However, it is a misdemeanor for employers not to pay severance if they have made a commitment to do so, and an employer may need to pay liquidated damages in addition to severance pay if it has failed to pay a promised severance wrongfully and willfully.

If you suspect that you were a victim of discrimination based on your membership in a protected class, you should consult an experienced New York City employment contract attorney before signing a severance agreement.

Non-Compete Agreements

Non-compete agreements or clauses are restrictive covenants that are commonplace for employees in creative or extremely competitive industries, such as the software industry. They are often one-sided contracts that accrue to the benefit of the employer and try to control which types of jobs an employee can seek or where an employee can work in case their employment is discontinued. Under New York law, a non-compete agreement can be enforceable if it is reasonable in terms of geography and time, it is not overly burdensome to the employee, it does not harm the public, and it protects an employer’s legitimate business interests. If one of the factors is not satisfied, the court may not enforce the agreement.

These agreements have advantages and disadvantages for workers, and it can be important to consult an attorney if you have been asked to sign a non-compete agreement or an employment contract that includes a non-compete agreement. If you violate a non-compete clause, you may be sued and subjected to an injunction issued by a court, so it is important to get legal advice.

Consult a Skillful New York City Attorney

An employment contract can shape your work experience at a New York City or Long Island company, and it can even affect your career after you leave an employer with which you have a contract. If you have concerns about your contract, you should contact an employment contract lawyer in New York City. Call the skillful employment attorneys at Gerstman Schwartz at (212) 227-7070 or contact us online.

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Thank you so much for standing up to my employer at a time when I couldn't do it myself. Your support and professionalism is so greatly appreciated. R.L.
I was scared to fight my employer. I knew it would be an uphill battle, and I wasn’t sure I could win against an organization with their resources. But Gerstman Schwartz gave me courage, confidence and they delivered on every promise. Ashley
Mr. Gerstman helped me double my severance pay and extend my health insurance. I cannot thank him and Gerstman Schwartz enough. Lenny B.