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New job decisions

The hiring process requires planning and negotiation. Before signing on the dotted line on new employment contracts, prospective employees should seek the best terms possible concerning non-compete and non-solicitation agreements and other terms.

A non-compete agreement prevents an employee from competing with their employer if they leave that company. A non-solicitation agreement is intended to prevent employees from soliciting co-workers, clients or customers from their employer. These agreements are intended to protect businesses. However, workers can face serious consequences if they resign or are fired. These provisions can restrict their ability to make a living or continue their career.

Often, these terms are boilerplate or have standard language that is not especially relevant for a business. Potential employees may be able to eliminate these terms. Otherwise, businesses may be wiling to restrict the impact of these terms. Workers should try to eliminate clauses that require them to pay legal fees and costs if a contract dispute ends up in court.

The time and geographical reach of a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement may also be excessive and unnecessary to protect a business. These terms are often copied from other agreements. Employers may be willing to forego certain terms to attract new employees. Some employees, especially upper-level positions, may be able to negotiate other terms. These include compensation, bonuses, fringe benefits and severance pay.

Employees should discuss what constitutes cause for job termination. This should be limited to intentional or bad conduct that violates company rules or specified illegal conduct. An attorney can help prospective employees review the terms of these contracts to assure that they are reasonable and comply with Pennsylvania law.

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