What are the statutes of limitation on employee contracts and agreements?
Employment in the state of Florida is considered “at-will.” This means that the employee and employer can each terminate the employment relationship at any point – provided there is no wrongdoing, such as discrimination, OSHA violations, etc.
“At-will” essentially means that a company can show you the door at any point “without cause.” Of course they have a cause, but they do not legally need to be able to prove that you were an unfit employee in order to terminate your employment. Similarly you are free to leave employment at any point without having any reason you can be required to prove.
With a contract, your employment can become more solid: you are no longer at-will, as long as the agreement puts termination limitations on the employer. Be careful when reviewing any such contract as sometimes employers offer contracts which are no better than at will employment.
Specific Types of Contracts & Provisions
At-will Contract – Specifically because of concern with the vagueness of oral statements or implications (see below), employers will sometimes have an employee sign an at-will contract to remove any gray area from the relationship.
Non-disclosure Agreement – This provision disallows an employee to either give proprietary details obtained from the company to another party or to use them for their own purposes.
Non-compete Agreement – This document is an agreement by the employee that she will not leave the company and either work for a competitor or start her own business for a period of time outlined in the document. The law requires that noncompete agreements be reasonable in terms of geographic scope and the time during which they are valid. In addition, a non-compete agreement must be supported by a legitimate business interest which is an expression interpreted by the courts based on specific facts in cases.
Non-solicitation Agreement – This document disallows the employee the right to recruit other employees and/or to convert the employer’s customers away to another company.
Forms of Employment Contracts
Written Contract – As you might guess, this is an agreement in writing. Both parties must sign off on its parameters. It can include such content as length of time to be employed, tasks to be performed, salary, benefits, and various provisions concerning what the employee cannot do with company information and access to other employees.
Oral Contract – This is a contract that is stated in speech rather than writing. Oral contracts often involve promises about pay raises at specified time increments, etc. While oral contracts inevitably involve the parties who remember and testify to different things, they can be enforced by an experienced lawyer.
Implied Contract – Some employment contracts can arise by various actions of the employer that cause an employee to think the employment relationship is on certain terms.
Misrepresentation & Misuse: Common Scenarios
Misuse (Too Overreaching) – Many employment contracts and provisions – especially non-compete, non-solicitation, and non-disclosure agreements – are often too overreaching. Employment contracts cannot interfere with the employee’s right to fair competition and the right to livelihood. Misused contracts and provisions can be excessively broad in scope, hence would be determined null and void in court.
Misrepresentation (Fraud) – Some employment contracts are deliberately misleading. If it can be proven that this is the case, the contract will be voided, and the employer may face criminal charges.
The Role of an Employment Attorney
In short, employment contracts are misrepresented and misused frequently. When you feel that your rights may have been violated, the employment attorneys at Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A., can help you understand the laws and obtain just compensation if you have been mistreated.
To consult with an experienced attorney regarding your employment contract, contact Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. today.
* Free Consultation not available for Employment Contract and Agreement consultations.