Many employers do not realize that, without a clear written employment contract, the terms of employment are subject to varying and often catastrophic interpretations. Employers often assume that employment not defined by a written contract will always be assumed by the law to be “at-will,” and that employees may be terminated at any time without concern for legal repercussions.
If only this were true.
More often than not, the disgruntled employee will (often with coaching by legal counsel) assert that they were orally told that, as long as they properly performed their job duties, they would continue to hold their job indefinitely. Unfortunately, without a clear written contract stating otherwise, the employer is at the mercy of its accuser. Disgruntled employees often find sympathy in juries, often composed of government employees and others in protected positions where employees rule the roost. As a consequence, a normal and customary business decision often results in a catastrophic financial loss for the employer – and an undeserved windfall to the accuser.
With the proper employment contract, the risk of such a disastrous result can be minimized. The terms of employment can be specifically defined – whether it is employment for a specified period of time or “at-will” employment, which can be terminated at any time, for any legal reason, or for no particular reason at all. Rather than proceeding to court, the contract can often specify that, for many issues, mediation and arbitration must instead be used. When the employee’s accusation turns out to be false or unenforceable, in some cases the employer can recoup the attorney fees and expenses it had to spend to defend against the false accusation. With the proper employment contract, many frivolous or unjustified lawsuits can be avoided entirely. Legitimate issues can be addressed efficiently and cost-effectively.
At Porter Law Group, we are experienced at writing employment contracts to meet the employer’s specific needs. With attention to legal requirements and in view of the employee handbook and the other employer policies, we can assist you in creating employee contracts that provide substantial protection to your business. Our contract drafting process is supplemented by ongoing review of all legal standards that apply, whether new statutes or new court decisions that impact employment contracts.
If you have not defined the terms of your employees’ employment with a clear written employment contract, you are failing to protect yourself and your business from avoidable financial loss and inconvenience. Give us a call so we can discuss your employee contract and help you gain the protection your business needs.