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Common Issues with Employment Contracts

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Common Issues with Employment Contracts

When joining a new company, employees often have the power to negotiate over their contract to produce an agreement more favorable to their economic interests, and one that is fair to both sides. Employees may be in a particularly good bargaining position if they are experts or highly skilled in a particular employment field.

While navigating through the various clauses of an employment contract, prospective workers should take note of some of the most common issues with these agreements as they can have long term repercussions on the candidates’ earnings and prospects for advancement. As with most contracts, speaking to an experienced Chicago area employment contract attorney about the situation can greatly benefit the employee.


How much one gets paid is almost always the most pressing matter for the individual. However, there are many nuances to compensation, including:

  • Frequency of pay increases;
  • Possibility of signing bonuses for coming aboard a new company;
  • If bonuses will be available; and
  • If a base salary before bonus and commission can be reduced in certain circumstances.


Employers often attempt to sweeten an employment offer with benefits. In circumstances where employees are not offered the rate of compensation they expect, they may be able to bargain for certain benefits like:

  • Medical insurance;
  • Disability coverage;
  • Life insurance;
  • Pensions; and/or
  • Stock options.

Scope of employment

The scope of one’s employment can include much more than simply a job title and responsibilities. Included in the scope of employment portion of an employment contract the employer may be able to designate:

  • The place of employment and whether the employee can be relocated;
  • If the employee can be demoted or have their responsibilities reduced or modified; and
  • If the employee will have influence over other facets of the company’s operations.

Grounds for termination and length of contract

How long a contract lasts and under what circumstances it may be prematurely terminated is among the most important of considerations. Employees should take the time to understand whether they are under “at will” employment or if they can only be terminated “with cause” for actions like:

  • Breach of contract;
  • Criminal charges; or
  • Refusal to perform reasonable duties.

Also, the contract may include arbitration and dispute resolution clauses for employee grievances.

Chicago area employment contract attorneys

Before you sign an employment contract, contact the Chicago area employment contract attorneys of Goldman & Ehrlich for a consultation. Our office has years of experience serving clients throughout Cook County, Lake County, DuPage County, Will County, Kane County, and McHenry County.

Are Non-compete Clauses Legal In Illinois?

Along with negotiations over salary and benefits, employees may also bargain over non-compete clauses, which may limit their ability to work for “competitors” should they choose to move on from the company. Prospective employees should understand Illinois has laws pertaining to these agreements and restriction that may make them unreasonable and unenforceable. The ultimate decision of whether the agreement is enforceable often depends on a balancing of many factors. It is, therefore, important that you discuss this with an employment law attorney before taking any action that might violate the agreement, or before signing the agreement.

When examining these clauses, some workers may ask if non-disclosure clauses are legal in Illinois. The answer is generally yes but with certain criteria that must be met. This includes:

  • The clause be no greater in scope than required to protect legitimate business interests of the company;
  • The non-compete agreement may not cause an undue hardship on the employee; and
  • The non-compete clause cannot cause harm to the public.

Furthermore, Illinois courts will generally give consideration to any geographic limitations the scope of the non-compete clause may carry and for how long. These considerations are not specifically listed in Illinois contract laws but they may fall under the undue hardship provision of the statute.

Am I supposed to be paid under a non-compete clause in Illinois?

Illinois law holds that the employee must be compensated (consideration) in some way in exchange for agreeing not to take his or her talents and inside knowledge of a company to a competitor. Illinois will also give special consideration to this aspect of the clause and determine if it is adequate for the employee.

The latter provision makes Illinois unique amongst states enforcing these agreements. In fact, inadequate consideration is fatal to claims by the employer and among the most important aspect of a dispute a court will examine before all else.

Are there time limits to Illinois non-compete clauses?

In Illinois, the employee generally must be employed by his or her company for at least two years for a non-compete clause to be valid, unless there is additional consideration provided by the employer. This usually holds true whether the employee leaves on his or her own accord or is released by the employer.

Additionally, the length a former employee may be subject to a non-compete clause after his or her departure from the general state guidelines for the agreements. Typically, there should be some end date where an employee may work for a competitor.

Chicago employment attorneys

If your employer asks you to sign a non-compete clause as part of your consideration for employment, contact the Chicago employment attorneys of Goldman & Ehrlich for a consultation. Our attorneys will examine the claim and help you advocate for the best interests of you and your career.

What Should I Do If I Am Considered To Be Insubordinate At Work For Opposing Discrimination?

All of us expect to be treated with dignity and respect at our place of employment and state and federal laws protect us from discriminatory action by our employers. Employment laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information.

Workplace Discrimination

Furthermore, employees may not be retaliated against for making good faith claims against these forms of discrimination or refusing to participate in activities that promote them. Unfortunately, some employees face retaliation for standing up for their legal rights and opposing workplace discrimination.

If you believe you were retaliated against for standing up for your rights, you will need to prove that you took part in a protected activity, suffered a negative action, and there was causation between the two. Speaking to a qualified Chicago employment attorney from the onset of your case can help give you the best chance

Engaging in protected activities

Standing up to discrimination is a protected activity under federal law. Employees may do this by either communicating the opposition to their employer or filing a claim with a state or federal employment agency. Your communication should make clear that you feel the employer’s actions or requests are discriminatory.

To prove you engaged in a protected activity, you will want to save any communications between you and your employer about the event. Many times, employers may assert the employee took part in an activity not covered by state or federal law but having this communication can demonstrate the contrary.

Negative activity

If you received a negative performance review, write up, or other written disciplinary action around the time of your protected activity, you will need to save this documentation. While this documentation may not specifically say you were reprimanded for making a complaint, you may be able to show a link between the two.

Save any other communications like emails, memos, or electronic communications you believe show your employer. Take notes to document daily engagements you believe may show a pattern of retaliatory behavior so your attorney can help investigate these claims. The notes should include all relevant “who, what, where and when” information, and possible witnesses.

Chicago employment attorneys

If you believe you were retaliated against by your employer for opposing or standing up to discrimination in your workplace, contact the experienced employment law attorneys of Goldman & Ehrlich for a consultation about your case. For over 25 years, our dedicated attorneys have helped employees in their times of need and hold wrongdoers accountable.