Employment Contracts

New York Employment Contracts

New York is an at-will employment state meaning that an employer has the right to terminate an employee for any reason at all, at any time, so long as it is not rooted in a discriminatory reason. However, an employment contract can allow you to set the terms of your employment and termination if necessary. The New York employment contract attorneys of Brown Kwon & Lam explain.

New York Employment Contracts: What They Include

Though New York is an at-will employment state, that does not mean you do not have any protections. In fact, your offer letter and employment contract will actually be beneficial to both you and your employer. It helps prepare a protocol for any future changes and/or challenges that may occur.

Within your New York employment contract, you will want to make sure that not only it is a tangible document, but that it includes specific terms and conditions of employment. The terms and conditions ensure that your employers cannot infringe on your rights without consequences.

Within a New York employment contract, you will want to ensure that it includes the following elements clearly:

  • Employee’s title, duties, and responsibilities
  • Compensation including how you will be paid, any bonuses, etc.
  • Availability/participation in corporate plans
  • Benefits and when they will take effect including medical/dental/vision, disability, life insurance, and retirement benefits
  • Grounds for termination and severance benefits due if terminated
  • Requirements of non-compete agreements, non-solicitation, and nondisclosure agreements

If you are in a union, you will also need a collective bargaining agreement CBA. A CBA does much of the same as a traditional employment contract but offers additional protections under the union.

What documents qualify as an employment contract?

While having a tangible contract is always the best option, there are other documents and methods of communication that constitute a legally binding employment contract

If a conversation, email, text message, etc. contains relevant language and benefits, it can become a legally binding contract in the court’s eyes. This includes what starts as in-person exchanges and continues to email where you list your needs, your employer’s counteroffers, etc.

So long as the four elements of an employment contract exist the email/communication can be a legally binding contract. These four elements are offer, acceptance, consideration, and intention.

What happens if my employer does not follow the terms of my New York employment contract?

The terms and conditions of your New York employment contract have to clearly list the application of termination, benefits, etc. Any fight against your employer and their wrongdoings would be based on these terms and conditions.

However, sometimes the wording of an employment contract can make it difficult to clearly outline the intent of the terms. But when your employer disobeys the terms and conditions of the employment contract, you can take legal action.

In order to protect yourself, ask questions when it comes to the negotiation of the contract:

  • Is this a position with a time limit of employment?
  • What are the termination conditions in place?
  • Are there any alternative dispute resolution actions in place which may take away the rights to take violations to court?

These questions may not seem important at first, but they can save you from legal battles in the future.

Employment Contract Violations

Properly knowing your rights is also knowing the common signs of contract violations. If you don’t, you leave yourself vulnerable to abuse from your employer.

Whenever an employer violates an employment contract resulting in an employee suffering serious financial harm, a breach of contract may have occurred. Examples of breach of contract include:

  • Failing to fully compensate the employee as agreed upon within the employment contract
  • Attempting to alter the terms of the agreement
  • Terminating the employee for reasons outside of the employment contract

Should a breach of contract occur, know that you have rights.

Negotiating New York Employment Contracts

While you may be concerned about your employment contract, you also should understand the negotiable terms and conditions included. Whether you are a high-level CEO or in an entry-level position, there is nothing wrong with knowing your worth. You have every right to fight for just compensation and benefits.

Common terms to be negotiated include:

  • Compensation (salary, commissions, and bonuses)
  • Benefits (health coverage, paid time off, stock options, retirement funds, etc.)
  • Stock in the company (depending on position/level)
  • Terms of the position (including how performance will be evaluated)
  • Grounds for termination
  • Nondisclosure agreements
  • Noncompete agreements
  • Any options for renewal
  • Severance agreements

If you have concerns about your employment contract, you can have it reviewed by a lawyer prior to agreeing.

New York Employment Contracts: Brown Kwon & Lam

Starting a new job can be exciting and stressful at the same time. To avoid complications in the future, let the New York employment contract attorneys at Brown Kwon & Lam review the terms and conditions of your hiring and potential termination to protect you now and in the future. 


Contact us today for a free consultation.


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