An employment contract is an agreement containing the terms of employment. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of both the employer and employee and includes details of your payment, work hours, grounds for termination, and even leave days. Your job description, staff handbooks, or written statements of terms and conditions are also considered valid express terms of your contract.
Both written and oral employment contracts are considered valid, though an oral contract can be more difficult to prove in court should legal issues arise. There are also ‘implied contracts’, which combine the employer’s actions and statements. In this case, general employment terms depend on federal law or state laws.
Regardless of the type of agreement, if you feel that your employer has violated your employment contract, don’t hesitate to speak to a Bellevue employment attorney for advice and guidance on how to handle the case.
When Should You Ask for an Employment Contract?
You are entitled to an employment contract from the first day you begin your job. Agreeing to work for an employer creates a contractual relationship between both parties. Usually, employers issue a written employment offer letter with details of basic employment terms and conditions.
Although employers are not obligated to provide a written contract for employees to sign, they may issue them when hiring middle and upper-level management professionals or some C-level job positions. Below are situations under which an employer may find it necessary to provide an express employment contract:
- If an employee has access to confidential information such as trade secrets
- When an employer doesn’t want competition from the employee after they leave the company. Here, an employer offers a non-compete agreement for the employee to sign.
- When an employee is a specialist and therefore difficult to replace.
As an employee, there are a number of federal and state laws in place to protect you in the workplace. The Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) protects your rights against employment discrimination regardless of the contract’s type. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces laws to prevent harassment, discrimination, and malpractice.
When Should Employers Hire a Contract Lawyer?
As an employer, it is necessary to get legal assistance from a contract lawyer who specializes in employment law to avoid costly lawsuits down the road. Businesses or organizations near Seattle may need to hire an employment contract lawyer when:
Drafting an Employment Contract
When writing an employment contract or severance agreements, you want to make sure your terms are free of any loopholes and legally binding. A contract lawyer will have in-depth knowledge of the latest federal and state labor and employment laws, so they can help you draft and review your agreements and policies.
If you have a reason to believe the employee you plan to dismiss might sue, you should consult a lawyer before terminating the contract. Situations that warrant hiring an attorney include limitations on your rights to fire, massive layoffs to avoid class action lawsuits, or if the employee you are firing filed a complaint against the company recently for issues like sexual harassment or an issue with their workers’ compensation claim.
Deciding Job Classifications
Job misclassification in the workplace may lead to increased liabilities in the form of unpaid wages or penalties. Therefore, always involve a contract lawyer when making decisions such as which staff members are employees or individual contractors.
Dealing with Complaints about Contract Breaches
Seeking legal advice from professional contract lawyers when responding to lawsuits helps you protect your rights and minimize liability. If an employee files a claim or complaint with the EEOC, consulting a contract lawyer will give you the advice you need to avoid costly mistakes, as well as provide legal representation, if necessary.
When Should Employees Hire a Contract Lawyer?
Employees have a right to legal counsel should a work dispute lead to an investigation or lawsuit. An employment contract attorney can help Washington employees in the following scenarios:
Before Signing a Contract
Employment contracts may include legal jargon that can be difficult to interpret. Before you sign or agree to employment terms, review them with a contract lawyer to get a clear understanding of all the clauses. Letting a lawyer review your contract before signing it ensures you don’t agree to employment terms that waive your rights.
Claims or Complaints
Always hire an employment attorney when filing a claim or complaint to a state agency or the EEOC. Whether you suffer employment discrimination, wrongful termination, or your employer has not paid your due wages and benefits, a contract lawyer can help. Your employment law attorney will review your case, identify relevant supporting clauses, and help you make an informed decision.
For Legal Representation After a Breach of Contract
If you file a lawsuit against your employer, you will need legal advice as well as representation. To ensure you protect your rights and get justice, hire an experienced lawyer to represent your interests in court.
Reach Out to a Bellevue Employment Contract Lawyer
If you have employment issues relating to employment contracts, the HKM Employment Attorneys law firm can help. Our years of experience in handling employment law make us the ideal legal services provider in Seattle and the larger King County. Contact our Bellevue offices for assistance on all your legal issues regarding employment law.