New Year’s Resolution – Time For a New Job

Your New Year Employment Checklist – Things to Consider Before Taking Action

It is the New Year and as part of your resolution you have decided you are going to be happy with your job. You are determined to find a job that values you and rewards your hard work.

If you are considering resigning from your current job and transitioning to a new job, we suggest that you consider the following checklist below:

(1) Gathering all of the policy, plans and handbooks of your current employer, to determine your rights and obligations.

(2) Have you obtained new employment prior to giving notice of resignation? If so, has this new employment been finalized, including whether you have come to agreement on, among others, your title, location, job responsibilities, salary and bonuses, and benefits and have these been placed into writing to confirm these terms? Have all of the background checks and any and all other contingencies of your starting work been met? Do you know if you have to sign any additional documents, like a Non-Compete Agreement, after you commence employment? Have you received a copy of their policies and handbook? Does this new job offer you the opportunities you are looking for and that you were not getting at your current employer?

(3) If you do not have new employment lined up, do you really want to resign at this time? Keep in mind that resigning without good reason may prohibit you from obtaining unemployment benefits. It may also be harder to get a new job if you resign from your job without first having new employment secured, as you appear more valuable when you are employed.

(4) Are you due to receive a bonus from your current employer? If so, when is this supposed to be paid to you? [You may want to give notice of resignation after the bonus is received as most plans require you to be employed on the date bonuses are paid in order to be eligible to receive them and if you give notice before this date, you may be asked to leave immediately, and therefore would not be eligible to receive the bonus].

(5) Are you due to vest in any stocks, equity plans, deferred compensation, retirement plans? If so, when is the vesting date and how will your giving notice of resignation affect your vesting?

(6) Have you signed a Non-Compete Agreement, Non-Solicitation Agreement, Non-Disclosure Agreement, Confidentiality Agreement, Inventions Agreement, or any other agreement that may restrict your ability to obtain or perform at a new employer? Are you subject to garden leave? If so, do you have a copy, understand what you signed and have you shared these restrictions with the new employer so they are aware of your current obligations?

(7) Do you know how much notice you must give if you are going to resign? Will you be giving notice of your resignation in writing? If so, will it be short or is there a reason you are departing?

(8) Are you entitled to payment of accrued but unused vacation days or PTO time if you resign?

(9) Are you due any payments you have not yet received; i.e., expense reimbursements, quarterly bonus, commission payments, etc.

(10) Have you taken home your personal property or removed personal items from the company computer? Alternatively, have you made a list of your personal items in your office or at your desk? Be advised that you cannot print out, take home or delete any customer lists, client information, trade secrets, business plans or other proprietary information of the company. If you are not sure if items are yours or those of the company, you should speak with an attorney prior to taking or emailing any items.

(11) Have you raised any claims against the company that are currently being investigated internally or at a city, state or federal agency?

(12) Is it possible for you to depart with severance?

(13) Prior to submitting your notice of resignation, is there a mentor that you would like to speak with first to advise them of your departure?

(14) Will you have an exit interview and will you be asked to sign anything during this meeting?

(15) Try and depart on good terms as you never know what the future will bring. Thank those who have helped you along the way and do not say or act in a manner that can harm you personally or professionally.

If you are going to transition to new employment, we recommend that you consult with an knowledgeable attorney to understand your rights and obligations and to determine how the above items, plus others, apply to your situation.

We are happy to assist you and guide you to a new and happier workplace! For guidance, job coaching or counseling, assistance with your transition or just more information contact Sheree Donath.

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Happy New Year from Donath Law, LLC

Donath Law, LLC Wishes You and Your Family a Very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

A new year offers a chance for new beginnings. Now is the time to take action.

Contact Sheree Donath to find the best route to achieve your employment or marital goals for 2023.

It is time to put yourself first, take the steps that you have been dreaming about and turn them into a reality.

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Major Job Cuts/Layoffs = Severance Packages. Protect Yourself. Have Your Severance Offer Reviewed Before Signing!!

Layoffs are occurring in many industries, for many reasons. Some people are being notified of their impending termination directly by HR while others are finding out via email. Regardless of how you may be notified that your job has been, or is soon to be eliminated, many laid off workers are being presented with severance packages. While many people face with unemployment are eager to receive some money and/or benefits, don’t be so quick to sign the documents presented to you without first understanding the offer, the terms in the agreement and what effect signing the agreement has on you and your future.

Here are a few items to consider before signing the severance document(s):

HAVE THE SEVERANCE AGREEMENT REVIEWED. The document presented to you is a legal and binding agreement. It will even state within the agreement that you have the right to have the agreement reviewed by an attorney. You should make sure, even if your intent is to sign the agreement, that you understand the terms within it. The severance agreement will contain a release of claims (meaning you cannot bring a lawsuit against the company if you sign the agreement), confidentiality provisions, and may contain a non-compete or non-solicitation provision(s), non-disparagement provision, no rehire provision, among others. Once signed, other than the seven-day revocation period found within certain severance agreements, you are in a binding contract.

ARE YOU GETTING EVERYTHING YOU ARE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE? Are you due monies or benefits that are not included in the agreement? Are you due expenses? Are you entitled to a bonus? Is this the proper amount of severance that is being offered to you? Can you enhance the offer? Is there a severance plan or precedent as to severance offers given to others?

WHY WERE YOU SELECTED FOR TERMINATION? While the company has announced that numerous people are being laid off, there is still a selection process. Was your selection for termination due to an improper motivation? This should be explored with a legal professional. If the answer is yes, then the severance offered may not be sufficient based on the circumstances.

CAN YOU NEGOTIATE THE TERMS AND LANGUAGE OF THE AGREEMENT? Everything in life is open to negotiation if people are properly motivated and you are willing to possibly assume some risk.

TIME TO SIGN THE AGREEMENT. The severance agreement will contain a specific time period for review and execution. Be sure to pay attention to this date, as once you miss the date, the offer may be withdrawn.

Keep in mind that the company is not offering you severance because they are just being kind. It is a business transaction. The company is offering you money in exchange for your signature on the document. They are, in essence, buying the obligations they are requesting of you (i.e. release of claims, confidentiality, non-disparagement, non-compete etc.). Also, keep in mind that the money you are being offered will be taxed when received and consider if this amount is sufficient for you to accept the commitments the company is requiring.

If you have received a severance package already or expect to receive one soon, contact Sheree Donath, Esq. (by clicking here) to have your severance package reviewed; to understand your rights; to discuss whether the package can be enhanced and/or to engage Donath Law, LLC to negotiate the terms of the severance offer.

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Helpful Tips for Your Upcoming Holiday Party – A Few Pointers to Protect Your Job, Reputation and Avoid Lawsuits

The holiday season is here and that means for most companies, a Holiday Party. Generally meant to boost morale, holiday parties can also result in trouble for the employee and the employer. It is important that you do not let holiday festivities trump your otherwise good judgment.

While a holiday party can be a great opportunity for an employee to have a good time and get to know his/her boss, manager, and co-workers better. However, bad choices during the holiday party could result in disciplinary action, or worse, termination.  Before attending the holiday party keep these factors in mind:

(1) Dress professionally. Remember this is still a company sponsored work event. You should dress appropriately for it and not wear clothes that would be deemed inappropriate for the workplace.

(2) Bring your spouse, partner, significant other or a guest, but only they are invited. Do not assume that you are invited with a guest. This is not always the case. If you are invited with a guest, make sure that the person you choose is the proper person to bring to this kind of event. Having a guest with you may prevent you from acting in a way that you would not normally act in front of your co-workers or unfamiliar people. This person can also reign you in, if necessary. Make sure that the guest you bring acts appropriately and is aware that this is a workplace event.

(3) Mind what you say. Do not gossip or complain to other co-workers at the event about something that happened at work. If it would not be considered proper decorum to speak of what you are discussing during the workday then you shouldn’t do so at the holiday party either. Do not overshare information about yourself. Remember, you will need to face these people in the office, and they will remember what has been said. This is not a time to let everyone know you are unhappy about your bonus for the year, your boss or another colleague. Keep your concerns to yourself or report them properly at work.

(4) Use this opportunity to network. There are people at the holiday party that you don’t get to see on a daily basis. Try and speak to these people and let them get to know you better, but don’t cling to them. Remember, there are other employees at the party that they may want to socialize with as well and if there are guests invited, possible new connections that can lead to a new or different job opportunity. Be careful that you don’t only “talk shop” or you may be considered boring and unable to socialize with your colleagues. Work can be discussed, but it shouldn’t be the sole topic of discussion. Do not try and ask for a promotion or a transfer during the holiday party. This is not an appropriate space to try to interview or advocate for a new role.

(5)  Don’t drink too much. Most holiday parties have alcohol available. However, be mindful of the amount you are drinking and your actions because of your intake. While you want to have a good time and let loose, you also want to ensure that you are not subjecting yourself to any claims of improper conduct, sexual harassment, etc. Also, if you do drink, make sure that you have a way to get home that does not require you to drive yourself or others.

(6) Review company policies. Remember that the holiday party is a company sponsored event and as such, you must still follow the company code of conduct. Specifically, the anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies still exist. A violation of the policies will result in disciplinary actions being taken.

A holiday party can boost employee morale and gives employees to relate to their colleagues in a less stressful environment. However, be mindful of the above and remember that this is not a social event with your family and friends.

Contact Sheree Donath, Esq. by clicking here if you have any questions or concerns about your employment relation or need assistance in determining, or standing up for, your rights in the workplace.

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New York City Salary Transparency. Does Your Pay Stack Up? Are You Being Paid Fairly? Is it Time to Request Additional Compensation or Look for New Employment?

As of November 1, 2022, all New York City employers, with four or more employees or one or more domestic workers, must include the salary range for any new jobs, promotions or transfer opportunities in any job advertisement. In the listing, the employer must include a “good faith” salary range with a minimum and maximum amount. The amount must be something the employer is willing to pay at the time of the advertisement. The job postings do not have to include benefits (i.e. health insurance, PTO, life insurance, 401K matching or contributions, severance) or any perks they may offer, but may be included if the employer chooses.

To view the salary requirement in job advertisement fact sheet, click here. The fact sheet provides information on what constitutes an “advertisement”, covered listings, covered employers, how salary protections are enforced, among others.

This new pay transparency law allows employees to review postings to determine if they are being paid in line with what is being offered. It also affords employees the opportunity to question the salary they are receiving based on their qualifications and experience and to determine if the compensation elsewhere might be better.

For employees who are unsure if they want to remain in their role, or believe they are not being fairly compensated, or are otherwise disgruntled, the new law may provide answers to many unanswered questions, such as is my colleague being paid more than I am. It may also be the impetus for change.

The new postings may also be a time for reflection. Employees may look to determine what job values are important to them, whether it be salary or flexibility or otherwise. 

If you believe you are not being properly compensated or are looking to make a transition (voluntarily or involuntarily) or want counseling at your current job, contact Sheree Donath, Esq. by clicking here or at sheree@donathlaw.com to determine your options and rights.

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Is Divorce Mediation the Best Option for Divorce?

Divorce is a trying time for all involved. Divorce mediation helps to alleviate some of the emotional and financial turmoil with a goal of maintaining a future relationship between the parties. In the mediation process, the parties have more control over the process. The parties can explore and agree on creative alternatives to finalize the divorce process.

Some of the items discussed in divorce mediation include, among others:

  1. Parenting plan and custody arrangements
  2. Child support and add on expenses
  3. Maintenance
  4. Debts owed by the parties
  5. Assets of the parties
  6. Benefits (i.e. health, dental, vision, life insurance)
  7. Retirement accounts (i.e. 401k, 403b, IRAs, pensions)

In discussing parenting time and custody arrangements we seek to do what is in the best interest of the children. Generally, if the parties cannot agree on time spent with the children (before any discussion of money), then the mediation process will likely be unsuccessful.

The mediation process follows legal guidelines for distribution of assets and debts, as well as payments of maintenance and child support. However, it also takes into account the costs for the parties to maintain and support two households and both be able to continue to live the lives they are accustomed to.

For more information on divorce mediation, contact Sheree Donath at sheree@donathlaw.com or click here.

To see if you are a candidate for divorce mediation, click here.

To determine what topics will be discussed at mediation and what documents are helpful to gather for divorce mediation, click here to obtain a checklist.

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New Employment Contract – What Terms Should I Expect to See in the Agreement and What Terms Should I Request be Added to the Contract?

When an individual receives an agreement, the first thing to determine is if it is an offer letter or a contract. Employees receiving an offer letter may have less negotiating room then employees receiving an employment contract. Why? Because the offer letter is usually pretty simple (1-2 pages) and is generally given just to set out some basic terms (i.e. start date, title, salary). Employees with an offer letter are also generally at-will employees (meaning they can be fired for any reason with or without notice, provided the reason for termination is not improper). This is not to say they cannot negotiate the terms of the offer letter or that the offer letter should be signed without being reviewed by an attorney. It is imperative that all the terms that have been promised to the employee be included in the offer letter before execution.

Employment contracts are generally provided to higher level employees / executives or employees who have negotiated terms that need to be documented. These may be terms that are not offered to all employees.

For employees who receive an employment contract, these are some of the items we would expect to see in an employment agreement. Some of them are straightforward and some leave room for negotiation. The below list should also be reviewed/ used by employees with offer letters or who are interviewing, because its a checklist to help the potential employee understand the terms of their new employment relation.

  1. title and responsibilities
  2. reporting chain – to whom do they report
  3. location of office to which the employee reports and whether the employee is remote or hybrid or will work from home
  4. at will or term contract (and if the latter is it truly the term stated at the beginning of the contract — for example 1 year — or can the person be terminated on 30 days’ notice, making the contract, in essence, a 30 day contract)
  5. salary/ compensation/ bonus/ stock/ equity
  6. sign on bonus – any requirements to stay for a period of time or pay back upon departure
  7. guaranteed bonus or bonus based on performance (and if the latter are there any metrics -to determine the basis for receipt of a bonus). Is the bonus to be paid now or as deferred compensation and will it be paid in cash or part in stock/equity and is there a vesting schedule
  8. benefits/perks/expenses/vacation
  9. notice requirements – any notice required for termination (with or without cause) or if the employee is to resign with or without good reason
  10. restrictions on future employment (non-compete, non-solicitation, non-disparagement) and do these continue if the employee is terminated without cause or only if the employee resigns
  11. any additional documents that will need to be signed by the employee (i.e. non-compete agreement, workplace inventions agreement, confidentiality agreement, etc.)
  12. severance – generally found in executive agreements and may apply if the employee is let go prior to the end of the term or if the employee resigns for good reason. Any severance may require the employee to sign a release of claims and the contract may state what the employee might be entitled to (i.e. salary, benefits, expenses, bonus, etc.)
  13. relocation benefits – what are offered, any requirements to stay for a period of time, or repayment. Possibility of re-relocation benefits at a later date.

Individuals who receive new employment agreements should have them reviewed so that all of the terms and promises discussed in the interviews are documented and there is no confusion at a later date.

Contact Sheree Donath at 516-804-0274 or Sheree@DonathLaw.com for assistance in having your employment contract or offer letter and the accompanying documents reviewed. We understand that time is of the essence and will accommodate you (speaking in the evening or weekends) to ensure that the documents are promptly reviewed and discussed with you.

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Are you Quietly Quitting? Is it Time for a Change in Your Employment?

Quiet quitting is a not a new phenomenon but it has recently taken over the news and been brought to many employer’s attention. Rather than resign from their jobs, some employees are engaging in “quiet quitting” or in essence, doing their job while refusing to go above and beyond as they may have done in the past. This may happen all at once or progress over time.

Quiet quitting may be considered by some to simply be employee disengagement or lack of interest by the employee. However, this is not necessarily true. Employees who quietly quit generally perform their primary duties, but do not go above and beyond to assist their colleagues/management, stay late or come in early, do not see it necessary tor attend non-mandatory meetings or gatherings, refuse to perform the job of others (i.e. doing two roles for the same money). Employees are pushing back on being asked to work day and night and are simply performing their roles, during working hours. This does not mean that the employee is not interested in working in the role or for the employer, but generally that the employee wants a work-life balance. Employees who engage in quiet quitting may feel under-valued, unappreciated or at times, taken advantage of. They may not be ready to walk out on their job as they likely need a paycheck and health insurance (and may even like the work they do and/or the company they work for), but are taking the first step to be recognized and to take control of their employment.

Employees who may be unhappy with all or part of their job and that are, or are considering, quietly quitting, may want to consult with an attorney or job counselor to determine the impetus for the change and to determine what other options the employee may have. For example, should the employee resign from their job? Should they seek a transfer? Should they look for alternate employment? Can they be terminated as part of a layoff? Will they receive severance if they depart? Should they find a new job first before leaving? What, if anything, should the employee tell their employer in an exit interview? Is there anything that may hinder the employee’s departure (i.e. non-compete agreement)? Employees have options and should speak with a knowledgeable professional to determine their rights and their obligations and if there is anything that they should be aware of if they choose to quietly quit or leave their employment.

Before taking any action(s) Employees should also consider what job values are most important to them and what their ideal job may be.

Donath Law, LLC can assist you in any transition you are making internally or externally in the workplace. If you would like to schedule a consultation with Sheree Donath, you can do so by clicking here or contacting her at Sheree@DonathLaw.com.

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Received a Severance Package from Your Employer – Here are a Few Points to Consider

If you received a severance package from your employer, you have either recently departed from your employment or a date has been communicated as your last date of employment. There are different reasons a severance package is given (i.e. a layoff, an employee raised claims against the employer during the employee’s tenure; the employee is entitled to severance per the terms of an employment contract, in lieu of being put on a performance improvement plan, etc.). Severance is not generally required (unless the employer has a severance plan), but is offered because the employer wants the employee to sign a document that contains, among others, a release of claims, non-disparagement, confidentiality, cooperation.

Employees who receive a severance document should have the document reviewed by an attorney to ensure that the language within is the language typically found within these agreements. To find out more about what terms are generally found in a severance agreement, click here. It is recommended that the attorney reviewing your severance package be one that is well-versed in employment law so that your interests are protected.

Employees should be cognizant of the time period they have to sign the severance agreement. If the employee is over 40, the employee generally has at least 21 days to review the agreement and 7 days to revoke the agreement. If the employee does not timely sign the agreement, then the employee may be denied the severance being offered.

Employees should look at the terms of the agreement to see if what is being offered includes everything the employee may be entitled to or be seeking (i.e. health benefits, unpaid accrued wages or commissions, future payments, bonus, expenses, vacation). Remember, once the release of claims has been signed, the employee is generally precluded from bringing a claim against the employer in Court, so the employee would want to make sure everything is agreed upon prior to execution. For a list of some of the items that an employee may look to negotiate in a severance package, click here.

Employees should look to see if there is a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement in the document, or if the non-compete/ non-solicitation provisions that may have previously been agreed to, have been waived or limited. It is important to understand that non-compete/non-solicitation provisions are likely still enforceable if you have been terminated. For more information on your rights relating to a non-compete agreement, click here.

For a substantive review of your severance agreement prior to execution, to find out whether the agreement can be negotiated or enhanced and to determine your rights and obligations, contact Sheree Donath.

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Employment Update: Notice of Electronic Monitoring of Employee Phones, Internet, Email

Starting May 7, 2022, employers with a place of business in New York state must provide notice to employees if they will be monitoring their telephone conversations, emails and/or internet usage. The specific terms of the new law can be found here along with the type of business that may be excluded.

The notice requirement presently requires employers to provide notice of electronic monitoring upon hiring of new “employees”. Employee is not defined and is silent as to whether this new law would pertain to others, like independent contractors, who may use the employer’s phones, computers, internet, etc.

Employers are required to provide the newly hired employee notice of their electronic monitoring policy as well as obtain a signed acknowledgement from the employee of the employee’s awareness of the policy. The employer is also required to post such notice in a place that is easily visible by the employees to whom it pertains.

Currently, the new law does not apply to current employees of the company, but employers would be wise to provide notice and obtain an acknowledgement from all employees.

Should an employer fail to comply with the new law, an employee does not presently have a private right of action. Rather, this law is enforced by the attorney general, who may fine the employer $500 for the first violation, $1,000 for the second violation and $3,000 for the third and subsequent violations.

For more information or to find out about your right and options, contact Sheree Donath at sheree@donathlaw.com or at (516) 804-0274 or by clicking here.

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