Phoenix Business Contract Lawyers
In business and work, a good contract can protect you from several pitfalls, but a bad contract can leave you with an overwhelming amount of liabilities. It’s crucial for you to speak to one of our Phoenix business contract attorneys before you negotiate or sign any legal document. At Shields Petitti & Zoldan, PLC, our experienced Phoenix contract dispute attorneys are highly respected and knowledgeable advocates for parties facing contract issues.
Negotiating a Contract
Protecting yourself in any contract dispute should start with negotiating terms that safeguard your interests. There is a give-and-take between you and the other party when agreeing on the clauses in a contract, but a lawyer can help ensure that you are not giving more than the other side and you are getting the benefit of your bargain. One of our contract negotiation lawyers can help you avoid the following risks before signing your name on the dotted line:
- Expensive liquidated damages for breaches,
- Restrictive non-compete agreements,
- Waiver of vital rights,
- Oppressive non-disclosure agreements, and
- Financially harmful non-solicitation agreements.
Sometimes the clauses listed above are so risky or oppressive that they are not enforceable in court. But even if a term is unenforceable, you will likely have to spend a significant amount of money and time defending yourself in court if you fail to comply with it. This is why it is essential to make sure that the contract you sign is as reasonable and clear as possible.
Common Types of Contract Clauses in Employment and Business Relationships
When you start a new job or venture, you may have to sign an agreement before getting to work. And if you want the full benefit of your labor, you might also have to sign a contract at the end of an employment or business arrangement. There are a handful of clauses you are likely to see in one of these agreements, and there are common employment contract disputes that you might face. We review these common terms and disputes below.
Whether you are an independent contractor or a standard employee, your work might give you access to business, organization, or agency trade secrets and proprietary information. These secrets and information could include formulas for the production of an employer’s products, proprietary training processes, or valuable client lists. To prevent employees and contractors from unfairly exploiting this information for their own gain or providing it to an employer’s competitors, many employers require their workers to sign confidentiality agreements.
Confidentiality agreements are perfectly legal, but some employers might use them to unfairly hinder their employees and workers. For instance, a litigious employer might try to sue you for using a “trade secret” in your own business that does not actually qualify as a trade secret under Arizona law. Once again, you might be able to defeat your employer in court, but the expense of that legal victory can still be costly. One of our Phoenix contract dispute lawyers can help you spot or negotiate the best terms in a confidentiality agreement and settle a dispute before it becomes an expensive trial.
Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation Agreements
Employers use not only confidentiality clauses but also non-compete agreements to protect their investments in employees. A non-compete clause typically prohibits an employee from working for another employer in the same industry and geographical area for a set period of time. Arizona wants employees to be able to work after leaving an employer, so non-compete agreements are not enforceable unless they are reasonable. If an employer attempts to restrict an employee from working in their industry for too many years, or if the geographical reach of a non-compete agreement is too large, a court might strike that agreement down.
In the same vein, many employers use contracts to forbid contractors and employees from asking other employees to go into business with them. These contracts are called non-solicitation agreements, and they can also extend to doing business with clients of your former employer. If you have signed one of these and are contemplating starting or expanding your own business, speak to one of our knowledgeable Phoenix business contract lawyers about the parameters of the agreement you signed before you invite a coworker to join you in your venture or pursue clients of your former employer. Speaking to an attorney before you act can save you the headache of litigation.
By default, employment relationships in Arizona are at-will. This means that employers can fire their employees at any time for almost any reason, and employees are free to quit whenever they choose. However, some employers and employees sign agreements that promise an employee a position for a set period of time unless there is good cause to fire them. If an employer wants to end this contractual relationship early and without good cause, it might present its employee with a severance agreement that buys them out of the rest of their contract and sets terms for receiving the payout.
Severance agreements often contain waivers of your rights that an attorney should review. And if you are 40 or over, your employer must give you 21 days to review a severance agreement and present it to an attorney for advice.
Sometimes an employment relationship ends with a scandal or after the settlement of a legal complaint. This could include a workers’ compensation settlement, a discrimination settlement, a harassment claim, or another impasse that severs the relationship. When an employer and employee part ways in one of these scenarios, there could be a severance contract or settlement contract that includes a non-disclosure agreement. And this agreement might prevent an employee from discussing the nature of their job separation or settlement. Some of these agreements are legal, and some of them are not. For example, if your non-disclosure agreement forbids you from discussing a sexual harassment complaint with others, it is likely illegal.
Breach of Contract
If you or another party breaks a term of a business or employment contract, you could be headed to the courtroom or the negotiation table. You can sue or be sued for breach of contract, which could cost you a substantial amount of money and result in non-monetary restrictions on your business dealings in the future. Our experienced breach of contract lawyers can help you negotiate a settlement that protects your interests and keeps you out of court. We can also fiercely defend you or champion your rights in a trial or arbitration for breach of contract. We know how to diminish or eliminate the negative impact of any legal dispute you may face in a business contract relationship.
Speak to One of Our Phoenix Business Contract Attorneys Today
At Shields Petitti & Zoldan, our breach of contract attorneys and contract negotiation attorneys are ready to protect you in any contract dispute you might face. This is because we are highly skilled and have over 50 years of experience. Our team has also recovered tens of millions on behalf of our clients. If you are up against a contract issue in Arizona and you need a strong advocate, you can call us or contact us online to schedule an appointment.
Our employment lawyers are also able to assist you with the following cases:
- Arbitration and Mediation
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty
- Business Litigation
- Employee Advocacy
- Constructive Discharge
- Employer Counseling
- Employment Litigation
- Hostile Work Environment
- Medical & Disability Leave
- Sexual Harassment
- Small Business Consulting
- Wage and Hour Violation
- Workplace Discrimination
- Workplace Retaliation
- Wrongful Termination