Seven Short Q & A’s on Sunday

Since so many blog visitors submit Questions, we’ve decided to devote some of our weekend blogposts to answering several Questions at once, and have chosen those that call for “shorter” Answers.
We hope and expect this will serve our blog visitors to our very best ability, which is our Guiding Purpose.
We invite and request your Feedback and Support.

Question 1: I am currently employed by a Fortune 100 company and considering resigning to take on a career development opportunity at another company in the same area. When resigning should I say where I am going to my co-workers? The place is very “in each other’s business” as it is, and I am not fond of sharing information. However, some of the people are my legitimate friends and I could run into them in the future.

New York, New York

The Short Answer is “My new employer asked me to wait.” Bob, you sharing where you are headed before you start there could bring about difficulties in many different ways. Many of our clients have shared such information, only to regret it. The best response is “My new employer asked me to wait to tell people about my new job until I start it.” While that may be a bit of a fib, your true friends will understand, and your false friends don’t matter. Please – do not share where you’re headed.

Good luck in your new job,
Al Sklover

Question 2: In your newsletter “Who Owns the ‘Creative Things’ You Produce at Work?” you shared certain rules to make sure employees did not get disappointed. Would those same rules apply to independent contractors?

Address Unknown

The Short Answer is “Some Yes, Some No.” When employees produce “creative things” at work, such as written articles, mathematical formulas, and inventions, it is presumed to belong to the employer, unless an agreement was entered into that says it belongs to the employee. With independent contractors, the presumption is the exact opposite: it is presumed to be the property of the independent contractor, unless an agreement was entered into that says it belongs to the company hiring the independent contractor. However, a “presumption” is not a “guarantee.” Both employees and independent contractors must take the same steps to make sure either an agreement, or other clear evidence, exists to make sure their rights in their “creations” are protected.

If you would like to obtain a Model Letter for this purpose [click here].

Now create – but protect – on,
Al Sklover   

Question 3: Dear Alan: I want to present a listed real estate investment opportunity to an investor, but I do not want to reveal too much before executing a fee agreement and Non-Competition/Non-Disclosure Agreement. How do I put this into “legal words” and secure a fee without disclosing the investment opportunity so the investor does not bypass us at the end of the day. Many thanks, and best regards.

Jacksonville, Florida

The Short Answer is “We offer that.” Jennifer, first understand that there are no “magic legal words” in any business transaction. Plain English always works best. Second, if you are still unsure of what to say, or how to say it, we offer two versions of a Non-Disclosure Agreement – a simple one, and a more complex one – on the “Model Letters and Agreements” Section of our blog, which you could adapt for your own use.

If interested in obtaining one (or both) [click here].

Hope your investor is interested,
Al Sklover

Question 4: When recruiting in Texas, can an employer or its recruiters screen job applicants based on overall fitness level and physical health level? It is for work that requires a lot of travel and working away from home in various oil refineries throughout North America.

Montreal, Canada

The Short Answer is “It seems they can.” Gil, I am not licensed to practice law in Texas, but my review of Texas law finds no prohibition against such health screening. Moreover, I know of no prohibition in any state in the U.S. of such health screening. Of course, that does not mean that people with disabilities – which are substantial limitations on basic life functions, such as walking, seeing or hearing – can be excluded on the basis of such disabilities. But overall health and disabilities are not the same thing.

Hope that helps,
Al Sklover

Question 5: I’ve made the decision to leave the U.S. to go to Europe. It just happens that my employer wants to give me a severance package a month or two before I move to Europe. I don’t plan on filing taxes in the U.S. once I leave, and I was wondering how I can request that no taxes be taken out of my severance check.

John Doe,
New York, New York

The Short Answer is “Sorry, can’t help.” John, an attorney cannot assist a person who he or she believes is committing a crime. That appears to be what you are intending to do: evade income taxes. Sorry, can’t help.

Maybe you should reconsider,
Al Sklover

Question 6: When is it easier to get an employer to give an employee a non-disparagement agreement, (a) when  the employee first discovers discrimination on the job, or (b) after wrongful termination, as part of a settlement agreement?

Wheaton, Maryland

The Short Answer is “It’s never easy.” Rose, most employers do not like to enter into non-disparagement agreements at any time, because they see such agreements as an invitation to a lawsuit. The most frequent response to a  request for a non-disparagement agreement is “We cannot make sure that every one of the thousands of employees of this company will be perfect in what they say about you.” However, if you do have significant leverage in a post-termination negotiation, non-disparagement is sometimes given to an employee, but not commonly.

Remember that
“Sticks and Stones . . .”
Al Sklover

Question 7: Can a Workers Comp insurance carrier demand that, as part of a settlement of a Workers Comp case, that I give my employer a Resignation Letter, and can they dictate that my Resignation Letter does not use the word “involuntary” in it?

Fremont, California

The Short Answer is “I doubt it . . .” HL, not only am I not licensed to practice law in California, but I am not experienced in Workers Compensation, which is a sort of “subspecialty” in employment law. May I suggest you contact the Referral Service of your county’s Bar Association, and try to find a Workers Comp attorney who will give you a free consultation. From my limited knowledge of Workers Comp law, I rather doubt you can be forced to give a resignation; I may be wrong.

Good health to you,
Al Sklover

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved. Commercial Use Prohibited.