With the increasing interconnectedness of our world, it is now quite commonplace for the American worker to be employed by a company that is based overseas. In the United States, the law provides companies doing business here with many tools that can be wielded to protect the interests of the company, including non-competition agreements, confidentiality agreements, and severance agreements. These are contracts entered into by the employee to protect the company and its profits and sensitive information—they do not protect the interests of the employee which is why we emphasize the importance of reviewing agreements presented by your international employer with experienced legal guidance.
Although these agreements are designed to protect companies, the law imposes limits on their terms in order to balance the interests between company and employee. Employees and their personal interests are not without legal protection, and courts will have little difficulty in finding a burdensome and unreasonable agreement unenforceable. For example, courts will often decline to enforce a non-competition agreement that is overbroad in its restrictions, such that the interests of the company are not protected and the interests of the individual are impeded.
As with any legally binding document, it is important to have experienced legal counsel review any such agreement prior to signing. But when the agreement is being presented by an international company based elsewhere, it is even more important to conduct this review because of the possibility of drafting error and resulting unenforceability of the agreement.
When an overseas company is entering the U.S. market, they often encounter rules governing the business and the employer-employee relationship that are quite different than the ones in effect back at headquarters. As a result, these companies are much more prone to error, particularly when it comes to drafting the important agreements that their U.S. employees will sign. Your non-competition agreement may be unenforceable. Your severance agreement may omit a key term. Your confidentiality agreement may be too broad.
Using the knowledge of experienced attorneys can reassure you of your rights and obligations; more importantly, however, reviewing these agreements before signing can catch critical errors your international employer may have made in the drafting process. Engaging counsel to review any documents you may be presented with can save a lot in the way of time and litigation costs, and general frustration down the road. Catching and preventing any issues that may arise from a poorly-drafted agreement is beneficial for all who may be ensnared by a subsequent dispute.
Schedule a consultation with our team of employment law attorneys to make sure the agreements with your international employer are well-drafted and enforceable. If you have been presented with an agreement or have concerns about one you have already signed, give us a call so that we can conduct a review and inform you of your obligations and options going forward.