Throughout the career course of an executive position, an executive deals with a variety of legal situations that no other type of employee faces. Moreover, executives often handle the drafting of agreements while also accepting and signing other contracts. Since each document is unique, an executive needs an extensive knowledge about business agreements along with legal repercussions.
Contracts and Agreements
Since professional positions and executive jobs require a high level of experience and knowledge, employment contracts for these positions must reflect that by offering competitive compensation and benefits. Moreover, most contracts are drafted after in-depth negotiation. Not only must this contract include benefits but it also details certain protections for the employee in the event of termination.
Meanwhile, an executive contract outlines employment issues like the following.
- Job duties and the consequences of changes in those tasks
- Duration of the employment relationship
- Terms relating to payment of bonuses and benefits should the employment relationship end in termination
- Stock options
- Severance provisions
- Forums for disputes
- Applicable law
- Relocation assistance
- Responsibilities to the company once the employment relationship ends
- Retirement plans
- Compensation plans
- Incentive plans
- Stock ownership plans
- Health care benefits
Proving Breach of Contract
While these contracts are legally binding, an employer may accidentally or intentionally breach a contract. Even if accidental, an employee can pursue his rights under the law. Therefore, the employee must show that the contract was breached with the following evidence.
- Both employer and employee agreed to a valid and binding employment contract.
- Employee complied with job duties under the contract.
- Employer breached a material aspect of the agreement.
- Employee suffered damages from employer’s breach of materials.
When an employer fails to uphold a professional employment contract, an employment lawyer advocates for your rights under the law by building a case and carrying your case through the legal system.
Non-Compete & Non-Disclosure Agreements
Due to the nature of work and high level of clearance, executives often know important business information that if leaked to competitors could cause extensive damage to the original employer. Therefore, many executive contracts include non-compete or restrictive covenants within. In some cases, the non-compete agreement is a standalone document. Of course, to measure the effectiveness of non-compete agreements, certain limitations regulate these types of agreements.
Non-compete Agreement Limitations
Scope, duration, and geographic limits
Reasonable terms, outlining the length of time, the geographical limits, and the included job tasks for the agreement, create the parameters for non-disclosure and non-compete agreements. Meanwhile, no clear line exists between ridiculous and practical requirements. Therefore, when a dispute arises from a non-disclosure agreement, a court decides based on the surrounding circumstances.
Another benefit of these agreements is that while an employer gains confidence that no important information will be lost, the employee receives something of value in return. While in some cases, a job seeker signs the contract and receives employment, a current employee must be offered some other benefit, such as a raise or bonus, to sign the agreement.
Legitimate business interest
Since non-disclosure agreements protect business interests, an employer must exhibit a valid reason for necessitating employee agreement. Moreover, an employer cannot force you to sign a non-disclosure agreement to eliminate possible competition. In fact, some agreements might hinder future career options.
When professionals or executives leave a job, either the employer or employee suggests a severance agreement. Meanwhile, a severance agreement is offered regardless of the circumstances surrounding the end of the employment relationship. However, some employers hesitate to negotiate or offer a severance agreement.
Although an employee might jump at the severance offer, a lawyer assesses the paperwork and ensures that the employee isn’t signing away any important rights.
Issues to Consider
- Timing of payments
- Continuation of benefits
- Unemployment compensation rights
- Waiver of legal claims
- Non-disparagement provisions
- Consequences for violation of the agreement
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulates a private employer’s ability to create, facilitate, and protect employee retirement plans throughout the United States. While the rules vary depending on the retirement plan, ERISA regulates current plans. However, ERISA does not require employers to offer retirement plans.
Moreover, ERISA offers the right to sue an employer for retirement benefits or breach of fiduciary duty. Meanwhile, every retirement plan must offer a reasonable procedure for processing claims and denials. Since navigating the rules and regulations for ERISA can be confusing, seeking legal counsel simplifies and expedites the process.
Examples of Retirement Plans
- 401(k) plans
- Defined benefit plans
- Defined contribution plans
- Profit sharing or stock bonus plans
- Simplified employee retirement plans
- Employee stock ownership plans
ERISA specifies a number of rules when an employer offers a retirement plan.
- commencement of an employee’s participation in a plan
- length of time worked before employee interests in their retirement plans vest
- employer responsibilities of providing adequate funding
- impact of extended absences on retirement benefits
- spouse interest in retirement accounts
Contact a Pittsburgh Employment Lawyer
If you have experienced any type of dispute in relation to the above agreements and contracts, reach out to a Pittsburgh employment lawyer because a lawyer understands how to protect your rights and ensure the best compensation. Moreover, legal paperwork requires a knowledgeable eye to protect you from any surprise loopholes. Call us at 412-626-5569 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.