Many employees throughout the state of New Jersey have signed employment contracts but are unaware of what exactly their employment contracts say. When they are hired and given the contract to sign, many simply glance over the document and then sign their name on the dotted line. Some simply turn to the last page and sign. Either way, many employees have no clue about the implications this document can have on their future. It is important to read and understand your employment contract since your signature legally binds you to all of the terms included throughout it.
For those that are unaware of New Jersey law regarding employment contracts, a good place to begin is to understand that it is a legally binding document. This means that the law holds the parties to the terms of their agreement. If there is a dispute between an employer and employee related to an issue that is addressed in the employment contract, the Courts will first look at the contract to see what the parties agreed to. By signing the document, both the employer and employee certify that they agree to the terms contained within. It does not matter if one of the parties did not read the employment contract. If you signed the document, the Courts will hold you to its terms. “I did not read the contract” is NOT a defense that will be considered by the Courts.
As mentioned earlier, employment contracts often have consequences for either the employer or the employee who may not have read the contract or was not familiar with its terms when they signed it. In a recent NJ case involving a doctor leaving her medical practice with other doctors, the court upheld the terms of the employment contract over the objection of the remaining doctors in the practice. The departing doctor wished to no longer work with the other doctors and wanted to leave. However, a dispute developed as to the value of the doctor’s shares in the practice and whether the remaining doctors were obligated to buy her out. The court looked no further than the employment contract between the parties, which required the remaining partners to buy all departing doctor’s shares in the practice for a specified price and also restricted the departing doctor from practicing medicine within a certain number of miles of the practice.
Employers know they generally have the upper hand when it comes to employment contracts. They create the terms of the contract and employees generally agree to them without any objection, often failing to even read the document. As an employee in New Jersey, you have the right to negotiate parts of an employment contract. Always be sure to read and have your employment contract reviewed by a knowledgeable employment law attorney before you sign it. It can make all the difference.
If you have any questions regarding employment contracts, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, an experienced NJ Employment Attorney today at (855) 376-5291 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He would be happy to discuss your matter with you.
By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold Township, Monmouth County, NJ Employment Law Attorney