How many employment contracts (in Georgia and/or other states) have you signed over the years? Whether you’ve had to enter into written contracts with multiple employers for years upon years or you’re considering your first position with a contract, you shouldn’t rush into signing without first looking for a few potential problems.
Most employment contracts in Georgia are pretty standard. Employers want to protect their organizations and avoid potential suits from employees. That doesn’t mean you should blindly sign any contract an employer puts in front of you. Always read the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. And, if you see any of the following red flags, you might want to speak with a qualified Atlanta employment law attorney before you proceed.
1. One-Way Indemnity Clauses
In an employment contract, an indemnity (or indemnification) clause is, essentially, a provision that assigns risk and/or expense in the case of a breach of contract. This provision or clause will define the actions your employer may take if you breach your employment contract.
It should also, however, define your rights if your employer is in breach. If your employment contract’s indemnity clause only outlines how your employer may move against you in the case of a breach, you should take a second look at that contract.
2. Indefinite Non-Compete Clauses
Non-compete agreements and clauses are fairly commonplace, especially if you work in a highly competitive field. However, your employer shouldn’t have the right to pursue legal action against you to prevent you from working indefinitely or anywhere you go. A reasonable non-compete clause might be limited to a year or two after you’ve left the company and within a reasonable radius of the location where you worked for the employer — depending on your industry.
3. High Pressure and Little Time to Review and Sign
This isn’t a part of the contract to look out for, but it’s absolutely a red flag. If your prospective employer puts so much pressure on you to sign that you have no time to review your contract, be wary. You should never sign a contract that you haven’t read thoroughly and that you aren’t familiar and comfortable with.
4. Ownership of Your Work
If an employer is paying you for creative work or for other intellectual property, they will likely own the results of your work. This is to be expected, but in many cases, you’ll still have the right to use your work in your portfolio or for other purposes once you leave. Be sure to read through your employment contract to ensure that you won’t be in breach of contract if you use intellectual property outside of work. And always ensure that you’re clear on the conditions under which you may use intellectual property and/or assets you’ve created — before you sign.
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5. Confidentiality Provisions that Apply to Outside Work
On that note, employers will often require employees to sign non-compete or confidentiality provisions related to side projects and other work performed outside of day-to-day normal working assignments. Be very wary of this kind of clause. It could prevent you from using a unique idea at a future position or even from starting your own business one day.
If you have questions about an employment contract, a breach of contract, or any other issues related to employment law in Georgia, please don’t hesitate to call us at Ben Barrett Law today at (404)845-7449.