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Should New York workers sign employment contracts?

Employers hold much of the power during the hiring and separation processes. Potential candidates and new hires are often required to sign contracts when being considered or offered a job. These documents can be complex, especially for the typical New York worker who simply wants to understand what he or she is signing.

Severance agreements are often portrayed as an easy choice for workers, who need only sign the document and receive their guaranteed pay or benefits after separating from their place of employment. While most do provide some type of severance pay for employees who have been with the company for some time, the agreements often contain many provisions that can impact future employment opportunities. Confidentially clauses, noncompete agreements and other provisions can prevent individuals from easily moving on to another job, especially in the same industry or field.

These types of provisions can also be found in contracts signed during or after the hiring process. Noncompete and nonsolicit agreements are especially common and, like with severance agreements, can effectively push an individual out of an industry should he or she ever leave the company. Contracts may also address income and work-related responsibilities.

Any proposed contract should be approached with caution. These documents can have long-lasting implications for employees, although they can also provide important protections when handled well. In most cases, workers in New York can benefit from carefully reviewing these documents under the guidance of experienced counsel. Doing so can help ensure that all involved parties thoroughly understand the contract, its provisions and all possible implications.

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