New York is an “at will” employment state. That means that unless an employer and an employee enter into a written agreement, the employer may terminate its employee at any time and the employee may resign at any time.
Entering into a written employment contract offers both pros and cons.
An employment agreement may be beneficial for many reasons.
First, it is useful to provide security to both employer and employee for a period of time. Thus, during the term of the agreement, the employer knows that it is investing its training on an employee who will not leave for a period of time and the employee knows that, as long as she meets her obligations she will not lose her job.
Employment agreements are also very helpful in securing confidential and sensitive proprietary information and trade secrets because they can impose confidentiality obligations upon the employee. Other restrictive covenants are available as well such as non-compete and non-solicit covenants which prohibit an employee from competing with the employer and soliciting its customers and employees for a period of time after the termination of the employment agreement.
Employment agreements may also be utilized to entice a highly skilled candidate to accept employment with the employer rather than a competitor.
However, an employment contract is a two way street, and an employer can be held liable for providing certain benefits and perquisites, such as severance payment, in the event that the employer terminates the employee without cause.
Both parties will, of course, be bound by their respective obligations and will be “locked in” for a period of time. Failure to meet such obligations will be considered a breach of contract and may subject a party to liability.
We work with both employers and employees to help them determine whether written employment agreements are appropriate for their particular circumstances.
We also assist our clients in negotiating, drafting and enforcing such agreements.
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