Employment contracts are the foundation upon which employer-employee relationships are built. They are legally binding documents that play a vital role in safeguarding your rights as an employee and ensuring fair treatment in the workplace.
To navigate the intricacies of the dynamic and hypercompetitive New York job market, you need to have a clear understanding of employment contracts, how they work, and how they can be used to protect your rights and interests as an employee.
At Levine & Blit, we know that employment contracts have the power to shape the trajectory of an employee’s career. It’s why we are committed to providing employees with the legal help they need to understand their rights and responsibilities encapsulated in the terms of their employment. We can review your employment contract, negotiate better terms with your employer if needed, and empower you to navigate your career with confidence.
Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced New York employment lawyers.
What Constitutes an Employment Contract in New York?
An employment contract – also referred to as a contract of employment or employment agreement – is a legally binding document between you and your employer. It serves as a foundational document that outlines the terms and conditions of your employment relationship and establishes the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of both parties during the course of employment.
The key components of a New York employment contract include:
- Job Title and Description – Outlines the specific duties and tasks you are expected to perform.
- Compensation and Benefits – Outlines the details of compensation – including the base salary, bonuses, commission structures, and other benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, stock options, and more.
- Work Hours and Schedule – Outlines the standard working hours, days of the week, and overtime.
- Terms of Employment – Outlines the terms of your employment – including whether it’s permanent, temporary, or for a specific period. If it’s a fixed-term contract, this section usually includes the start and end dates.
- Termination Clause – Outlines the conditions under which the employment relationship can be terminated – including notice periods. This section might also specify grounds for termination, severance terms, and any conditions related to resignation.
- Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure – Outlines your duty as an employee to avoid sharing confidential information, trade secrets, and other proprietary company information with any unauthorized third-party.
- Intellectual Property Rights – Outlines the ownership and usage rights associated with any intellectual property that you might create or contribute to during the course of employment.
- Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation – Outlines the restrictions on your ability to work for your employer’s competitors or solicit clients or employees from your employer after you are terminated.
- Dispute Resolution – Outlines the procedures for resolving disputes between you and your employer – which might include mediation, arbitration, and other dispute resolution processes.
New York State and Federal Labor Laws Related to Employment Contracts
Employment contracts in New York are required to comply with a number of state and federal labor laws – from wage and hour laws to anti-discrimination laws – which govern various aspects of the employer-employee relationship. These include:
New York Labor Law (NYLL): The New York Labor Law encompasses a wide range of provisions including minimum wage and overtime requirements, wage payment, record-keeping, and child labor regulations. Employment contracts must adhere to the provisions outlined in the NYLL to ensure fair and lawful employment practices.
New York Minimum Wage Act: This law sets the minimum wage rates for different categories of workers in the state. Employment contracts must comply with these minimum wage requirements and employees should be paid at least the statutory minimum wage for their work.
New York Wage Theft Prevention Act (WTPA): The WTPA mandates that employers provide written notice to employees about their terms of employment, including rate of pay, regular payday, and other wage-related information. Employment contracts should incorporate the required notices and information outlined in the WTPA.
New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL): The NYSHRL prohibits discrimination and harassment in employment based on various protected characteristics including race, gender, age, sexual identity, disability, and more. Employment contracts should not include terms that violate anti-discrimination laws.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): The FLSA is a federal law that sets standards for minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, record-keeping, and child labor. Employment contracts in New York must comply with the FLSA’s provisions, especially regarding minimum wage and overtime pay.
New York Paid Family Leave (PFL): This law provides eligible employees with job-protected, paid leave to bond with their child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or address certain military family needs.
New York Equal Pay Act: This law prohibits wage discrimination based on gender. Employment contracts in New York must ensure equal pay for substantially similar work – regardless of gender.
New York State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act: The WARN act requires certain employers to provide advance notice of plant closings and mass layoffs.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA): OSHA sets forth safety and health standards in the workplace. While not typically detailed in employment contracts, employers are required to provide a safe and healthy work environment in compliance with OSHA regulations.
Workers’ Compensation Laws: New York has laws that require employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees. While the details are often handled outside the employment contract, employers must comply with workers’ compensation requirements.
Why Consult with Our New York Employment Law Attorneys before Signing Your Employment Contract?
Employment contracts are complex legal documents that tend to contain provisions that might have significant implications for you in the short term as well as in the long term. It is why you should consult with an experienced New York employment lawyer before signing your contract.
Here is how the seasoned New York employment law attorneys at Levine & Blit can help you with your employment contract.
Legal Jargon and Complexity: Employment contracts are drafted using legal language that may be challenging for individuals without legal training to fully understand. We can help decode complex legal terms and provisions and make sure you understand your rights, obligations, and the potential consequences of various clauses.
Negotiation of Terms: As an employee, you might not be aware of your right to negotiate certain terms of the employment contract. We can assess the terms, propose modifications, and negotiate on your to achieve a more favorable and balanced agreement.
Understanding Restrictive Covenants: Employment contracts often include restrictive covenants such as non-compete, non-solicitation, and confidentiality clauses. These can have significant implications on your future career opportunities. We can assess the scope and enforceability of these clauses and negotiate with your employer to modify them if needed.
Termination and Severance Issues: Termination provisions in your contract can impact your rights and entitlements upon termination. We can review these clauses to ensure they are fair and compliant with relevant employment laws.
Compliance with Applicable Laws: Employment contracts must comply with federal, state, and local employment laws. We have extensive knowledge of these laws and we understand how they apply to different employers in different industries under different circumstances. We can make sure that the contract is in compliance with all the relevant laws and regulations and protect you from unknowingly entering into an agreement that violates your rights.
Ensuring Clarity and Transparency: Ambiguities in employment contracts can lead to misunderstandings and disputes. We can review your contract for clarity and transparency and make sure that all terms are clearly defined and there is no room for misinterpretation.
Protection against Unfair Terms: Employment contracts may include terms that are inherently unfair or excessively one-sided. We can identify such terms and negotiate with your employer to achieve a more equitable agreement.
How Our New York City Employment Lawyers Can Help with Key Clauses in Your Employment Contract
Workplace discrimination, workplace sexual harassment, and wrongful termination clauses are some of the most important components of a New York employment contract. These clauses help establish a clear framework for appropriate behavior in the workplace and outline the rights and responsibilities of the employer as well as the employees.
Here is how the New York City employment lawyers at Levine & Blit can make sure that these clauses are as comprehensive as they should be.
We can review the workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, and wrongful termination clauses carefully and make sure they are in full compliance with the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and other relevant state and federal laws.
Clear Prohibition Language
We can make sure the clauses are worded in a clear and unambiguous manner and explicitly prohibit all forms of discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.
Definition of Prohibited Conduct
We can make sure the clauses clearly define what constitutes discrimination and sexual harassment under the terms of the employment contract. If there is any ambiguity, we can propose modifications or draft clauses of our own for your employer’s consideration.
We can make sure the clauses contain clear and accessible reporting procedures for individuals who are discriminated against or sexually harassed at work.
We can make sure the clauses include confidentiality measures that can protect the privacy of individuals who file workplace discrimination and sexual harassment complaints.
We can make sure the clauses include detailed protocols for conducting prompt and thorough investigations into workplace discrimination and sexual harassment complaints.
We can make sure the clauses specify potential disciplinary actions that may be taken if the investigation determines that discrimination or harassment has occurred.
We can make sure the clauses incorporate protections against retaliation for employees who file workplace discrimination and harassment complaints or participate in the investigation of these complaints.
Reviews and Updates
We can also review the workplace discrimination and harassment clauses in your employment contract on a regular basis and propose updates to them if necessary to make sure they remain current with changes in state and federal anti-discrimination laws.
How Our NYC Employment Lawyers Can Help You in the Event of a Breach of Employment Contract by Your Employer
In the event of a breach of the employment contract by your employer, our New York NY employment lawyers can provide the legal assistance you need to resolve the dispute. The steps we can take include:
We can thoroughly review your employment agreement, assess the allegations against your employer, and determine whether your employer’s actions constitute a breach of contract.
In many cases, employment disputes can be resolved through negotiation. We can represent you in discussions with your employer and try to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. This might involve negotiating changes to employment terms, addressing specific grievances, or seeking compensation for damages.
If informal negotiation proves unsuccessful, we can send a formal demand letter to your employer outlining the breaches of the contract and the desired resolution.
In some cases, mediation can be a viable option. We can guide you through the mediation process, where an impartial third party can facilitate discussions between you and your employer.
If your employment contract includes an arbitration clause, we can represent you in the arbitration process, make arguments, and present evidence to an arbitrator who will make a binding decision.
If all other avenues fail to resolve the dispute, we can initiate legal proceedings by filing a lawsuit against your employer for breach of contract.
Take Control of Your Employment Future: Talk to Our Trusted Labor Lawyers NYC Today
Signing an employment contract can have long-lasting implications for your career. At Levine & Blit, we have decades of experience in drafting, reviewing, and amending employment contracts. We can make sure your rights and interests are not infringed upon or violated in any way.
In case of a breach of contract by your employer, we can take all possible steps to resolve it in a time-bound manner. Our extensive experience in litigating employment-related cases in state and federal courts allows us to negotiate with employers from a position of strength and achieve outcomes that few others can.
Call our law firm today at 646-461-6838 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a top-rated New York employment law attorney.