Employment Agreements

Employment Agreements and Severance Agreements

The employment relationship is ultimately an agreement between employer and employee, in which each has rights and obligations to the other. At the most basic level, the employee has the right to receive pay and the obligation to perform work, and conversely, the employer has the obligation to pay the employee and the right to receive work. However, there can be many other terms or conditions of employment that complicate employment relationships, such as additional rights, like the right to receive stock options, and obligations, such as the covenant not to compete against the employer. An experienced employment lawyer can help employees navigate this potential minefield of rights and obligations. The Harman Firm, LLP, offers aggressive and resourceful representation when it comes to negotiating, preparing, and litigating employment contracts and severance agreements.

Agreements Generally

Employment agreements are usually provided by the employer in or around the time of an offer letter. They may involve a variety of rights and responsibilities, including provisions related to separation, employee layoffs, confidentiality, indemnification, dispute resolutions, severance, health benefits, vacation and sick leave, employment grievance procedures, and post-separation rights and obligations, several of which are covered in more detail below.

Non-Compete/Non-Solicitation Agreements

Employment contracts may contain restrictive covenants, which include non-compete and non-solicitation clauses.

In broad terms, covenants not to compete are legally permissible in order to protect the employer from unfair competition from its former employees, so long as the restriction on the employee is not unreasonable. The reasonableness of a non-competition covenant, non-solicitation covenant, or any other type of restrictive covenant, whether standing alone or as part of an overall employment agreement, will be judged on more than just its duration, scope, and geographic restrictions. All such clauses must be consistent with the overriding public policy that restrictive covenants should not unnecessarily restrict free trade or the ability of an employee to practice his or her particular trade and must take into account the effect on the general public.

In order for a non-compete agreement to be enforceable, it must: (1) be necessary to protect the parties’ legitimate interests, (2) cause no undue hardship on the former employee, and (3) not impair the public interest.

If you believe you have a non-compete agreement that is injurious to you and/or your employment, or if your employer is trying to enforce an unfair non-compete agreement, you should consult with our team of skilled lawyers to weigh your legal options.

Commission Agreements

Employees in certain fields, such as sales and other commission-based occupations, are often subject to agreements covering the terms of commission: how a commission payment is derived, when a commission payment is due, whether an employee will be entitled to a commission-based bonus, and other such issues. The New York Labor Law provides commissioned workers with a variety of legal protections, which the employment attorneys at The Harman Firm, LLP, can help you navigate.

Severance Agreements

Unlike an employment agreement, a severance agreement is entered into by a departing employee and their employer. Typically, severance agreements will contain a number of provisions, including the release of the employer from liability in future lawsuits and certain covenants on the employee in exchange for a separation package, which may be paid in a lump sum or over several weeks. How a severance package is organized may affect an employee’s eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits or the amount of their taxes. The Harman Firm has extensive experience reviewing and negotiating severance agreements.


Conveniently located by Madison Square Park, The Harman Firm, LLP, Attorneys and Counselors at Law, can help employees achieve their goals by assisting in drafting and reviewing employment agreements. If necessary, we are prepared to litigate on behalf of our clients to enforce the agreements they entered into with their employers. Without the assistance of an experienced lawyer, the rights of employees—including executives and managers—can be put at risk.

New York Employment Attorneys Blog - Employment Agreements
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