Most employers hire employees on an “at-will” basis. However, some employers require employees to sign employment contracts. Employment contracts are binding on the employee and the employer. An employment contract sets out the terms of the employee’s job, such as pay, employment benefits, performance expectations, grounds for termination, terms for ownership of the employee’s work, and more.
Contact a Pittsburgh Lawyer for Employment Contracts
Working with an attorney to negotiate and draft an employment contract is advantageous. At Jones Gregg Creehan Gerace, our Pittsburgh employment contract attorneys are here to help represent you with your contract negotiation matters. We can help you draft, negotiate, or enforce an employment contract while representing your best interests. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation to learn more about our legal services.
Elements of Employment Contract
Like other contracts, employment contracts are legally binding on both parties. The employer offering the contract and the employee who signs a contract are both legally obligated to adhere to the contract. Employment contracts detail the significant terms and conditions that the employee and employer must meet. An employment contract can be as simple as an offer letter that an employee signs, or it can be complex and lengthy. Every employment contract is different, but most employment contracts will address some or all of the following important issues:
- Compensation, including salary and bonuses
- Employee benefits, such as health plans, retirement fund plans, stock options, sick leave, and paid vacation
- The employee’s title and job description
- An outline of the employee’s responsibilities, benchmarks, and performance standards
- Restrictions on the employee working for competitors in the future
- Confidentiality clauses and the penalties for breaching them
- The duration of employment
- Grounds for termination
- Severance packages
We Have Extensive Experience Negotiating Employment Contracts
In the excitement of getting a new job, an employee may quickly read through the employment contract and sign it without taking time to consider the terms in the contract. Doing so can be a serious mistake. If you received a contract or offer letter and you’re asked to sign it, it’s important to remember that an unfavorable employment contract can lock you into terms that are difficult, if not impossible, to meet.
Employment contracts sometimes restrict an employee’s future opportunities. In other cases, employees receive a new contract after they’ve been promoted that may have new terms and conditions. Remember, an offer isn’t a contract until the employee signs it. If you are an employee, discussing your contract with an attorney is worthwhile before signing it.
Contract Drafting Services for Pittsburgh Business Owners
If you are a business and you would like to begin the practice of having your employees sign employment contracts, we can help you draft employment contracts that protect your interest. Suppose you have offered a candidate a position and presented them with an employment contract. If the candidate attempts to negotiate with you, our attorneys can help you with the negotiation and potential redrafting of the contract. Finally, suppose if your business offers boilerplate contracts that are the same for every employee. In that case, we can help you tailor your employment contract to the unique employee and his or her job position.
Executive Employment Contract Considerations
Employment contracts for executives within a company are often detailed, multi-page documents outlining the proposed employment details. Due to executives’ extensive responsibilities and high salaries, executive employment contracts typically require multiple witnessed signatures and Board of Director approval.
Negotiating a comprehensive executive employment contract is crucial for Pittsburgh employees accepting a new position or changing roles within a company. For business owners, it’s important that employment contracts for executives are detailed and clearly outline the terms of the arrangement and the penalties for breaching the contract.
Employment Contracts for “At-Will” Employees
Pennsylvania, along with many other states, is an at-will employment state. In Pennsylvania, an employer can terminate an employee’s position at any time and for any reason. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as discrimination and retaliation. Additionally, when an employee has a contract that explicitly sets when the employee can be fired, the employer must abide by that contract.
Sometimes employers overstep the terms of the employment contract and try to fire employees when they have no legal ground. If you have been wrongfully fired from a position in violation of your employment contract, we recommend discussing your case with an attorney as soon as possible.
Employment Contract Disputes
Employment contracts are binding on all the parties who agree to the contract. As long as the contract meets the requirements for a valid contract under Pennsylvania law, it is legally valid. The employer and the employee must abide by the contract terms. When one or both parties violate one of the contract terms, it is called a breach. The employer may breach the contract by not fulfilling their agreement on pay or benefits, terminating employment on grounds not included in the contract, or changing the terms of the contract.
When this occurs, the employee has a right to sue the employer for breach of contract. Alternatively, if an employee reaches the contract, the employer has a right to sue the employee for breach of contract. The party who brings a lawsuit may seek monetary damages or make the breaching party perform the terms of the contract, called “specific performance.”
Our Pittsburgh Employment Attorneys Can Help
The Pittsburgh attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan Gerace have extensive experience representing clients in a wide range of employment contract matters. Whether you are a business owner who would like assistance drafting and negotiating employment contracts or an employee, we can effectively represent you and your interests. Our trial-ready attorneys are also prepared to handle employment contract litigation matters. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.