January 2015 Archives

I am being bullied by a co-worker; what should I do?

Bullying is an intolerable and abusive situation that makes you dread coming to work, increases your stress levels while at work and at home, and drastically reduces your productivity.   Unfortunately, there are no laws that can protect you against workplace bully in Pennsylvania or New Jersey unless that mistreatment is related to your age, gender, race, national origin, disability, military service etc. If you are not being bullied because of one of those reasons, your recourse is limited to bringing the matter to the attention of your supervisor and human resources.   You should document the specific details of the bullying so that you can provide HR with a detailed description of how you are being treated. It is imperative that you follow the procedure outlined in your employee handbook so that the company has every opportunity to address the issue.

My company is downsizing, how do I get a severance package?

Downsizing looks different for different companies and packages may vary from employee to employee. In larger companies, downsizing and layoffs may automatically come with “hand raiser” packages. This means that the company may ask for volunteers to give up their positions in exchange for a severance package. Other companies may hand select employees for layoffs, but this layoff doesn’t always come with a severance package. Severance packages may differ from employee to employee based upon the level of employee, years of service, or whether the employee falls within a protected category. When faced with a layoff, the employee should ask the following questions: (a) is this truly a company wide layoff; (b) is there any pattern that I see in the employees affected by the layoff; and (c) is the package that I am being offered fair.

What if I want to leave and I have signed a non-compete agreement?

Some executive level employees may be bound by a non-compete agreement that they signed at the start of their employment. This means that they are limited in where they may work or the type of job they may take if they wish to leave their current position. While non-competes must be narrowly tailored in their geographical reach and time limitation, they are generally considered valid if they were signed at the start of the employment, are for 1 to 2 years, and cover the geographical area when the company does business. When meeting with prospective employers, you must disclose the existence of this non-compete. While this may dissuade certain employers from hiring you, you have to disclose this information as your former employer will sue both you and your new employer to enforce the non-compete. Many prospective employers will have their attorney evaluate the non-compete to determine the level of risk involved in hiring you and may still be willing to consider bringing you on or buying out your non-compete.If you are bound by a non-compete or are considering hiring someone with a non-compete, make sure you evaluate the issue with an attorney before taking any decisions. It is imperative that you evaluate the risk level before committing to a situation that may lead to litigation.

I want to leave my job, what issue should I consider?

When deciding to move on to a new position, you should consider what ties you to your current job. In some instances, employees may have signed an employment agreement that may restrict his or her ability to continue work in the industry for a certain time. This type of restraint is called a covenant not to compete or non-compete. These agreements are usually extremely broad and cover your work for a competitor who performs substantially the same role in a particular geographical area. While these agreements to have to be narrow in their geographical scope and time limitation, they are allowed to cover the areas where they actually do business. For many large companies, this means that they can restrict your ability to work anywhere in the world where they have a presence. So, before you leave your current job, make sure that you are not restrained by a non-compete.

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