Employees: Read Before Signing On the Dotted Line

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July 26, 2022 | By: Lisa I. Fried-Grodin, Esq.

If you are negotiating the terms of a new job, a promotion or an exit package,  you need to read and understand what is in the written documents you and the employer will sign and make sure the written documents reflect what you have negotiated. Sounds obvious right?

Unfortunately, too often, job candidates and current employees rely on comments managers make during the negotiation process that either never end up in the written agreement or offer letter, or worse are actually contradicted by what is in the written document.

If for example, an offer letter or employment agreement doesn't include details of the compensation you were verbally promised, or doesn’t explain what you have to do to qualify to get incentive pay or a bonus discussed in negotiation,don't sign it unless and until this is provided to you in writing. Watch out for bonuses and incentive pay that are completely discretionary and only paid out if you are working there. That means you can work hard earning the incentive and bonus pay and management can decide not to pay it or can let you go and assert you are not entitled to receive it. If you are willing to take those risks, proceed to sign. If not, think about whether this is right for you.

The same holds true for a description of this position, your manager and work location. If for example, you negotiated a fully remote job, get that in writingand watch out for language saying the employer can revoke this at a later date.

Finally, if you are presented with any kind of employment agreement with restrictions that will prevent you from working in your field in the future, don’t just blindly sign it. Think about what impact this will have on you seeking employment after you leave this employer, and push back if it is unreasonably restrictive or request that the employer pay you for the restrictive period.

Coming to a lawyer after you have signed agreements that don’t deliver what you want is usually futile.  Instead, take your time, review and make sure the written documents memorialize what you think you are signing up for, and if you don't understand what you are signing or need help suggesting revised terms, call an employment attorney.