Although Ohio is an at-will employment state, employers sometimes require employees to sign an employment agreement based on the position and circumstances. These agreements outline certain terms and conditions of employment, benefits to the employees, and often provide the requirements for terminating an employee and/or for an employee to voluntarily leave. Employment agreements may also contain non-compete and non-solicitation agreements or clauses.
Non-compete agreements are contracts that prohibit an employee from working for a competitor or starting a business that competes with the former employer. Generally, non-compete agreements outline a certain timeframe in which the employee is not allowed to compete with the employer and may e prohibit the employee from working in a certain geographic area. Violating the terms of an enforceable non-compete agreement may be a breach of the contract. If so, the former employer can sue the employee for violating it and even obtain an injunction from a court to stop the employee from working for the new employer or engaging in a competing business.
Non-solicitation agreements are often similar to non-compete agreements, but there are some differences. These agreements prohibit an employee from soliciting or “inducing” former co-workers, customers, and vendors to leave the employer and work for or do business with the former employee’s new company or in some cases for any other employer.
Severance packages, sometimes referred to as “Separation Agreements” or “Separation and Release of All Claims Agreements,” are not required by law. Severance packages can be beneficial to employees, but they almost always require an employee to release all current and future claims against a company arising out of employment. In other words, to receive the severance benefits an employee must usually agree that he or she will not sue the company for any dispute related to their employment. The agreements usually contain confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions.
It is extremely important to determine when the signed agreement must be returned to the employer and the procedure for doing so. If an agreement is returned after the due date, an employer is not required to provide whatever benefits the agreement contained and the employee will likely forfeit the benefits contained in the agreement.
Employment agreements, which are usually signed upon hire, also provide information regarding employee benefits. This may include information about health care and insurance plans, retirement plans, and paid time off benefits. Stock option agreements may also be included in employment agreements, which are sometimes the most challenging part for most employees to understand. It is important that anyone who has received an employment agreement speak to an attorney before signing it. A Columbus employment attorney will explain the terms of the agreement and the benefits offered.
A job offer is very exciting. However, it is important to not get so caught up in the excitement that you sign away your rights. If you have been offered a new job requiring you to sign an employment agreement, call our Columbus employment lawyers at Marshall Forman & Schlein LLC. We will review your agreement to identify any red flags and help you to understand the terms contained in it. Before you sign anything, we suggest that you call or contact us online to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.
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