Employment Agreements

So you own a business and as it grows you hire more employees.  But do you have employment agreements in place for your new employees, and should you?  In Illinois at employee is considered at-will without an employment agreement in place.  That means the employee can be hire or fired for any reason, no reason, a wrong reason, just not a discriminatory one.  So why put an agreement in place?

The answer is that many times, the agreement can work in the best interest of the company.  It sets the terms and conditions of employment and when those terms and condition are breached it creates cause for termination. 


You see if you rely on at-will, you can still terminate the employee but they may come back and file a claim for discrimination against you. They will claim the firing was a pretext for discriminatory conduct.  And you will have nothing to fall back on.  Another words you can’t point to a violation of a company policy—you don’t have any.  On the other hand, if you have an employment agreement in place, you can point to a violation of the terms in the agreement as the reason for termination.  Now instead of the employee claiming a pretext for the termination, you can prove a violation of the employment agreement as the reason.  You now have facts to back up the termination—which makes your case much stronger. 


Additionally, there are many more agreement which can be either incorporated into a standard employment agreement or added on.  For example, a non-compete agreement, or non-disclosure agreement are two of the most common.  Each offers protection for the employer.   Each also must be carefully tailored to what the law allows.  If you make them too expansive, chances are a court will find them unenforceable and therefore they will offer no protection to you.   How long and the geographic reach of each agreement depends on many factors and an experienced employment lawyer like Peter LaSorsa can help you determine what is right for your particular business. 


To go along with putting these agreements in place, the company should also spend some time with basic training on what the employment agreements encompass.  There should be an employee check-off and records kept showing the employee was given a copy of the agreement, it was reviewed with the employee and the employee was fully aware of the consequences of breaching the agreement.


Other policies should also be drafted and put in place at this time as well.  For example every company should have a sexual harassment policy and training on that issue.  It is probably the most costly issue facing employers today.  Not only in terms of money but also in terms of the negative business exposure was a claim to be filed and made public.   We are in a new time regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.  Any company that doesn’t have a solid sexual harassment policy and training in place is rolling the dice.


Putting solid employment agreements in place, allows you to focus on the business end of your business.  Take the risk and worry out of the employee end of things but putting solid agreements in place.  You may even get a reduced rate on your business insurance if you were to have solid employee agreements and policies in place.


As a very experienced employment lawyer Peter LaSorsa can help put a solid set of employee agreement in place.  Peter can also offer training to your staff and ensure that you have the most protection available going forward.  Spending a little money up front can prevent spending a great deal of money in litigation later on. 


We are living in a very litigious era and putting your head in the sand won’t make that go away.  Spend the money up front and give your business the maximum protection.   Call or email my office for a free evaluation of your business needs.  I have been on the plaintiff side of the equation and recovered millions of dollars on behalf of employees suing employers.  Don’t become a victim because you didn’t have good employment agreements and policies in place.