Happy New Year everyone! Usually this time of year I write a “employment law new year’s resolutions” post. This year I can’t think of a good list of tips and pointers. But I do have one thing I have been thinking about lately regarding how best to leave one job and transition into another.
As I have written about in previous posts, many employers are asking their employees to sign lots of paperwork before they start a new job. This paperwork usually includes minor acknowledgments or releases. However, nowadays the paperwork more often than not will include a number of restrictive covenants, arbitration agreements, and waivers of the right to bring a lawsuit as part of a collective or group.
Restrictive covenants might prevent you from engaging in your profession within a certain area for a number of years. Arbitration agreements force you to allow an arguably biased private judge to decide your case. And waiving your right to engage in a collective action gives the employer a license to steal from you in amounts small enough that it would be difficult or inefficient to get a lawyer to represent you.
The increase in amount and the “severity” of today’s paperwork impacts what one needs to do when they plan on leaving a job to start a job at a different company.
The problem begins when you wait until your first day at the new job to find out exactly what you will be asked to sign. When the HR rep drops a stack of paperwork in front of you and tells you to sign, what are you supposed to do? Are you going to complain or refuse? Will you ask them to change a clause or provision in the agreements? Maybe. But what leverage do you have? All you can do if they refuse to allow you not to sign something or change something is to threaten to not take the job. But you are now in the position of having quit your previous job, so if you actually refuse to sign and leave you don’t have any job. Someone in the position of having no job unless they sign some paperwork will probably just suck it up and sign the paperwork no matter what it all says.
A better course of action is to do anything that might maximize your leverage, which in this case is do everything possible to allow you to be able to walk away from a bad agreement.
A way to do this is to ask the prospective new employer to send you all the pre-employment paperwork before you give notice at your current job. This means you can see what you will be asked to sign with time to think about what you are being asked to sign. Getting the paperwork while you still work at your old job also allows you to ask for the new job to make changes to what they are asking you to sign. It is much easier to make those asks when you are able to legitimately walk away because you still have your old job.
Negotiating is a lot about how much and what type of leverage each party brings to the table. Maximizing your leverage helps you to get the best possible agreement. Don’t throw away your leverage by quitting your old job to soon.
If you are in Georgia and have a question about your rights at work contact Atlanta employment lawyer Ben Kandy.
This post does not create, and is not intended to create, an attorney/client relationship between the reader and attorney Benjamin Kandy. If you have any questions about your rights speak to an attorney in your state. Please see our disclaimer page.