You may be signing away important rights at hire. Be Careful.
Updated: Nov 28
So you interviewed for a job. You are highly qualified and you receive a job offer. You are excited and they send you new hire documents to sign electronically as a part of your new hire onboarding. But before you sign, read this blog post.
You must be very careful to read those onboarding documents carefully because you may be signing away important rights that are often negotiated at termination via a separation agreement.
I am noticing that many of my clients are coming for me for help with exiting hostile workplaces and as we move them towards the negotiation of their exits we are discovering that they may have signed away certain important rights at hire.
Many have signed confidentiality and non-disparagement provisions without even knowing it.
Many employers are requiring that new hires sign agreements that require them to keep silent about their employment experiences even after termination and bar them from speaking badly of their employer after termination regardless of what happens to them during employment. Many employees do not even realize that they are agreeing to these provisions because they often have names like “Proprietary Information” agreement or “Confidentiality Information” policy, and employees do not realize how far the terms go. These provisions often include Non-disparagement provisions and non-disclosure provisions that continue to be in effect even after termination and only protect the employer.
It is important to understand that two things employers care a lot about are what I call the two Rs - Risk and Reputation. They care about limiting their risk specifically in terms of legal liability. They also care about protecting their Reputations in the public sphere such as social media platforms and in the press. Most do not care enough to remove bad managers and bad actors from their ranks. Instead, they seek to limit their risk and protect their reputations by muzzling their employees in any way they can. Many have figured out that they can avoid court and pay out of large severance amounts by making new hires sign away certain options at hire. Human Resources professionals know that most employees do not carefully read their new hire documents, especially now that employees receive them electronically. They understand that most employees will not know the significance of what they may be signing away until they need to exercise those options and find that they cannot.
So how can you try to safeguard against signing away options and rights you might want to exercise at separation from a bad employer?
Start thinking about these things during your job search and interview process. Ask recruiters whether the company they represent requires that employees sign confidentiality, non-disclosure, and/or non-disparagement clauses that extend beyond employment.
At hire, ask to see any confidentiality, non-disparagement or non-disclosure provision in the employee handbook in advance of accepting an offer.
At a minimum, if you interview for a position ask the following questions:
Do you require that your employees sign any confidentiality, nondisclosure or non-disparagement statements at hire whose terms extend beyond employment?
Are you willing to waive those requirements or revise the language?
Also, be sure to request review of any documents you will be required to sign at hire prior to accepting your employment offer
If your potential employer balks, refuses to answer the questions obove or denies your request to see the documents prior to acceptance of an offer, you may want to rethink whether you should consider working for the employer.
Also, remember the best time to look for a new job is when you have a job as this puts you in a better position to negotiate and not accept bad terms out of desperation.
And no matter the situation, never be desperate. Always know that you have valuable knowledge skills and abilities to sell on the open market and be an educated employment consumer. Know your rights and be willing to request enforcement of those rights.
If you are in a discriminatory hostile work environment, you wish to plot your escape and you need help mapping an effective strategy, I am here to help!
Don’t forget that one of the most important things you can do to assure your successful exit from a discriminatory hostile workplace is to DOCUMENT! Effective documentation is the most overlooked element of successfully negotiating a separation with severance from a Discriminatory hostile workplace.
Grab The Hostile Work Environment Escape Strategy (HWEES) Documentation Journal and start documenting today.
If you need help navigating a discriminatory hostile work environment, or you want to get out of one, perhaps with some severance pay, Book a HWEES Discovery Call.
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HR is not your enemy but they are definitely not your friend, I am.
I am the AntiHR, HRLady and I’m here to help.