Mon May 7thRestrictive Covenants and Blue Pencils: A Shifting Landscape
A person’s job and career are sources of identity and pride. You care about your job and commit a large portion of your time, energy, attention and effort into building a successful career. Whether it be learning a new skill, obtaining a promotion, managing other employees or running a business, your relationships with your employers and your co-workers are some of the most important in your life. For businesses, hiring staff or increasing current staff levels signals growth and new opportunities, but that expansion needs to be done correctly to avoid the pitfalls associated with hiring. Whether you are an employer or an employee, it is important to secure legal counsel on questions of employment law and disputes about employee rights.
General Employment Law Rights
Employees have a number of legal rights. Some of them include:
- Employers have a duty not to base employment decisions on your race, sex, age, religion, national origin, pregnancy or disability. While sexual orientation is not a protected class, some jurisdictions do provide protection for LBGT employees.
- Employers are required to pay employees for all time worked for the benefit of the employer. This includes pay at the federal minimum wage and, sometimes, overtime pay.
- Employees have the right to be free from sexual harassment and a hostile work environment in their workplace.
- Employees with a disability have the right to receive a reasonable accommodation from their employer that would permit them to complete the responsibilities of the job.
- Employers are required to pay employees of the same or similar job type equally, regardless of their race, sex, age, religion, national origin, pregnancy or disability.
In addition to statutory rights, employment contracts, including employment agreements, severance agreements, non-competition agreements and possibly corporate policies included in employee handbooks also provide rights to employees. Non-competition clauses and restrictive covenants are a particularly contentious issue, especially in Virginia. Generally, your employer may restrict your ability to compete with them after leaving employment, however such limitations must be reasonable and not prevent you from finding new employment.
At Harvey & Binnall, we have represented numerous employees and businesses in contract and employment-related disputes. Our key to success is strong advocacy and extensive preparation. We treat every case as if it is going to trial and believe in full transparency with our clients. Our job is to guide you through the process and cost-effectively represent your interests.