IT Employment Contracts: Watch Your Step

IT employment contracts are not uncommon, and the IT industry in particular can be rife with various “gotcha” clauses in contracts. An attorney provides advice on how to successfully navigate these contracts and protect your career in the process.

Jamie Eckle writes, “Jeffrey Scolaro, an attorney at Daley Mohan Groble PC in Chicago and a member of Legal Services Link, answers questions about employment contracts.

“Are employment contracts for IT workers negotiable, or are they one-size-fits-all? The axiom that ‘everything is negotiable’ should be where all IT professionals begin their assessment of proposed employment contracts. However, the IT industry in particular can be especially rigid in its collective enforcement of employment agreements.

“IT companies are very protective of their intellectual property [IP] and wary of conceding issues in employment agreements that might jeopardize that IP. Therefore, it is always recommended that IT professionals use an experienced attorney to let the employer (or prospective employer) know that the IT professional is just as serious about exercising his or her rights during this process.

“What are some terms that might be encountered in an employment contract that many people are unfamiliar with? The first terms that likely will be encountered are ‘restrictive covenants,’ which include ‘noncompetition,’ ‘nonsolicitation,’ and confidentiality clauses. Each of the aforementioned are attempts to restrict an employee after (or during) employment. Noncompetition clauses are likely the most important because they affect an employee’s ability to work in the industry for a period of time after the employment term ends. Noncompetition clauses vary in their enforceability throughout the country, and, again, it is highly recommended that any IT professional find an attorney capable of assessing such clauses.

“Additionally, the ‘solicitation’ provisions can change an IT professional’s ability to do business with former colleagues or clients of their employer. Additionally, terms that should be approached with caution include ‘choice of law’ provisions, termination ‘for cause’ provisions, ‘best efforts,’ ‘forfeiture,’ ‘liquidated damages,’ ‘vesting,’ ‘employee representations,’ or ‘exclusive employment,’ to name a few.”

Read on for more details.