NEGOTIATE…. OR NOT? 150 150 Lauren Ellerman

So you are approached after years of employment, and asked to sign an employment contract that contains language on future employment. After being a good solid employee, now everyone is being asked to sign this document.

Questions you are probably considering?

(1) Why now? What if I don’t sign it?
(2) What if others refuse to sign it?
(3) Can I negotiate the terms of the agreement?
(4) What if they fire me – does the agreement still apply?
(5) Do I get anything extra for signing this agreement? A Bonus, anything?

In a scary economy, it is important to know what you are signing… or being asked to sign.

According to Virginia law, you can be fired for refusing to sign an employee contract. It is a “right to work” state which basically means you can be fired for any reason, other than race, age, gender or religion.

Now, if other employees refuse to sign and nothing is done – that is good news. That makes it difficult for the employer to later state, they are damaged by a breach — if other employees left and competed, and they did not enforce, or those other employees didn’t have non-competes, the Court is less likely to rule against the lone employee that signed the agreement.

Is the non-compete valid if you are fired? Yes – unless it states otherwise, when employment is terminated – the agreement stays in effect.

Can you negotiate? The answer is – maybe. Depends on the company. A Local hospital in our home town refuses to change terms of employment agreements with new physicians, but a smaller company with less employees may be willing to negotiate the terms of your contract.

If you have questions or concerns, please call us before you sign… Better be safe than sorry.

About the author

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at

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