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The basics of an employment contract

There are two "kinds" of employment, at-will, and contract. At-will employment means that either you or your employer can terminate the employment relationship, at any time, for any reason. While most employers will treat their employees as "at-will" most employers are also bound by an employment contract. This post will go over employment contracts and how one might affect you.

Employment contracts were once ubiquitous; everyone had one. Unfortunately, the recent trend has been to move away from contracts, even for professionals like lawyers and accountants thereby resulting in most of those employees being "at-will." But, the relationship is more nuanced than that. 

Most employers will require their employees to sign "employee manuals" and other documents prior to agreeing to employment. These documents can and often do form the basis of a contractual employment relationship. While most manuals will provide that employment is "at-will," it will also prescribe situations in which termination is automatic, subject to review, appeal procedures, and impose restrictions on quitting. For example, the famous "two weeks" notice is a restriction on at-will employment caused by an employment manual.

While you may not be bound by a traditional "contract" that you negotiated, you are likely bound by the trappings of an employment contract. If you believe that you were terminated in breach of your employment contract, then you may want to call a lawyer for assistance. As illustrated above, many people are protected by the terms of the employee manual. It is crucial that you familiarize yourself with the terms and to bring a copy with you if you meet with a lawyer. An attorney can review the situation and advise you on the various strategies to confront this issue. 

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