Contracts and Severance Agreements

Practice Areas

Smart Talk — Effective Results

Employers don’t always act in the best interests of their employees. Many times, employees are presented with contracts or severance agreements that are one-sided and only protect the employer. Before you sign your name to any employment document, it’s critical to fully understand what you’re agreeing to and what you might be giving up.

Employment contracts and severance agreements are often confusing to understand — and they tend to contain language that shields the employer from liability. It’s a good idea to have an experienced employment law attorney carefully review the terms of any agreement before you execute it. At Optimum Employment Lawyers, we take the time to diligently assess the terms of employment contracts our clients have been presented with and help them understand the implications and consequences of signing any agreement.

Straightforward Advice for Employment Contracts

Employment contracts are often entered into at the beginning of the employment relationship. They may contain terms as to the salary, work expectations, employment duration, benefits, termination grounds, and the responsibilities of both parties. Once signed, these agreements are legally binding and can be enforced if one party is in breach. This is why it is critical to ensure that the terms and conditions are fair to you as the employee — and don’t just favor the employer.

Some common types of employment contracts can include:

  • “At-will” employment contracts — California is an “at-will” employment state, meaning an employee can leave at any time, and the employer can terminate the employment for any reason as long as it’s not discriminatory.
  • Express employment contracts — Express contracts outline the responsibilities of the employee and employer and the conditions of the employment.
  • Non-compete agreements — These types of employment contracts place geographic and time restrictions on who an employee may go into business with or work for during or after their employment with the current employer.
  • Confidentiality agreements — Typically, employees agree not to divulge trade secrets and other confidential information about the business when they sign a confidentiality agreement.
  • Non-solicitation agreement — An employee agrees not to solicit the company’s customers or clients for their own benefit when they sign a non-solicitation agreement.

Executing an employment contract can have a significant impact on your life and livelihood. If your employer has offered you a contract, it’s essential to fully comprehend every clause before you sign it. If there are unfavorable conditions or provisions that are overly broad, a skilled employment law attorney can assist you with negotiating the terms. Optimum Employment Lawyers offers proficient counsel for employment contract review and negotiations to ensure your rights in the workplace are protected.

Personalized Legal Services for Severance Agreement Review and Negotiation

Many employers present employees with severance agreements when they are terminating their employment in an effort to limit their potential liability. Although not required by California law, these agreements typically offer a sum of money, referred to as severance pay, and benefits such as COBRA payments.

However, employees should proceed with caution if they’ve been offered a severance package — employees are often required to forego certain rights if they enter into a severance agreement. In many cases, severance agreements disproportionately favor the employer. For example, in exchange for severance pay, an employee may be required to waive their right to file a lawsuit against the employer.

A severance agreement may also place restrictions on what a former employee can say about their employer or the termination. In addition, by accepting a severance package, an employee may not be able to bring a claim for wrongful termination, harassment, or unlawful discrimination. Critically, a severance agreement cannot force you to give up back wages and overtime owed, or prohibit you from reporting a crime.

Since a severance agreement can substantially impact your rights, it’s crucial to strategically weigh your options. Employees should never take severance agreements lightly or feel pressured to sign one simply because their employer asks them to. Optimum Employment Lawyers can evaluate the terms of the agreement and help you assess whether it would be beneficial for you to accept the severance package you’re being offered. If the circumstances of your termination give rise to litigation, we will discuss your options and advise you as to the best course of action.

Contact an Experienced Southern California Employment Law Attorney

Whether you’re just starting your employment or have been terminated, it’s best to have a qualified employment law attorney on your side who can review any contracts or agreements your employer has asked you to sign. Providing communicative counsel and straightforward advice, Optimum Employment Lawyers is committed to protecting the rights of employees throughout California at every stage of employment. Contact us to schedule a consultation.