Congratulations! You have received an offer letter. Usually, this is a document that formally extends employment to a job applicant and outlines the main terms and conditions (including salary and other benefits). The offer letter also frequently gives a candidate a more in-depth description of the position's role within the organization and responsibilities. Although the offer letter may seem like it presents a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, most of the time there is some room for negotiation. Even if you think you have no ability to negotiate, it is still important to make sure you understand the terms you are agreeing to before signing the offer letter. Review the offer carefully and think outside of the box if there are issues you want to discuss.
California has a strong public policy, codified in Section 16600 of the Business & Professions Code and repeatedly recognized by courts, that prohibits restrictions on employee mobility and competition, except in certain defined situations, as set forth in Sections 16601 and 16602 of the Business and Professions Code. Restrictions prohibiting competition that involves disclosure of trade secrets is also allowed.
for many workers, signing an employment contract with a confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-competition, or non-solicitation clause is a necessary part of accepting and keeping a job. What they don't anticipate, however, is that those provisions can be leveraged against them to restrict employees' rights to challenge unlawful practices and find other work, placing their livelihoods and future employment in jeopardy.
In apparent support of U.S. workers and economic realities, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued guidelines for human resources professionals regarding anti-competitive hiring practices.
This May, the Obama Administration released a report analyzing the use of non-compete agreements in the American economy, potential issues arising from such use, and the effectiveness of various state responses. This analysis suggests that the misuse of non-competes at various occupational levels places an unnecessary burden on employees, consumers, and the economy.
A New York trial court recently addressed the issue of adequate consideration for a non compete, finding that now-lapsed stock options were not adequate consideration, nor was continued employment where the agreement stated that the employer maintained the right to terminate the employees at will.
Employees, particularly those with access to sensitive company information, are typically required by their employers to maintain the confidentiality of such information. This requirement may be found in the employee handbook or may be contained in a restrictive covenant agreement, employment agreement, or severance agreement. Violating a confidentiality obligation can have serious consequences, including hefty monetary damages in a civil lawsuit. For one Goldman Sachs employee, however, the consequences were even more severe: Sergey Aleynikov was criminally prosecuted--twice--for taking confidential material with him when he resigned his position. His controversial second conviction was overturned earlier this week.
Arbitration is a common, employer imposed method for resolving employment conflicts without going to court. However, Outten & Golden Partner Wendi Lazar suggests that when an employee is forced by contract to arbitrate rather than sue, arbitration becomes a means for employers to suppress the rights their employees would be entitled to in court.