Everyone knows the process: you found your dream job in Arizona, created an impressive resume, applied, and passed the rounds of interviews. Finally, all your work and worry has been rewarded with the long-awaited document that will seal the deal – the offer of employment.
All that’s left for you to do is sign on the dotted line. Then, you’ll start your new job at a company that appears to reflect your values and appreciates your qualifications and skills. You’re about to live the dream.
Not so fast!
Before you sign your offer of employment, you should make sure you know your obligations, understand any restrictions that may affect you in the future, and determine if the contract complies with AZ labor laws. It’s legally binding, after all.
Better yet, you should get a lawyer to look over it for you. Here’s why.
Look Out for Restrictive Covenants
One of the biggest reasons job seekers should consult a lawyer before signing an offer of employment is to see if there are any “restrictive covenants.”
Today, many employers insert these clauses into employment contracts to restrict the employee’s actions. Some remain in force even when the employment contract is terminated.
While there are many possible restrictive covenants, the most common ones are non-compete clauses.
Non-compete clauses include “restraint of trade,” – which can prevent you from working in the same industry or any other role that’s similar to the one described in your offer of employment. If you have any restrictive non-compete clauses in your contract, you need to ensure you’re being adequately compensated for them.
Another restrictive covenant is a non-solicitation agreement – this effectively prevents you from taking the employer’s clients when you leave the company, whether you brought them in or not. A company’s clients become the employer’s property, and you can’t use the company’s client list when you leave.
Clear Up Any Misconceptions
Having a lawyer advise you can clarify any issues and clear up misconceptions in your contract regarding employment law.
One of the most common misconceptions job seekers have is understanding if they are at-will employees or not.
Unfortunately, having an employment contract does not mean you’re not an at-will employee. You are not guaranteed a job for a certain period, and your contract may be terminated at any time. Hiring an employment lawyer can help you understand the terms of termination in your contract.
Watch Out for Illegal Demands
Another important reason job-seekers should employ a lawyer to look over their contracts is to spot illegal demands. Sometimes, employers make demands that aren’t legal, and employees could unwittingly agree to them without realizing it. Some non-compete clauses, for example, would never hold up in court.
While employers don’t often deliberately place illegal obligations in employment contracts, they make mistakes or might not know what’s legal or unlawful. This is widespread in small startups that may not have received legal counsel.
Instead of relying on what the employer thinks is legal, you should get legal counsel of your own. Get a qualified lawyer who has experience in employment law to look at your employment contract.