How Your Employment Contract May be Unenforceable in Court

In general, Florida is an “at will” employment state, meaning that an employer can terminate an employee “at will,” for a variety of reasons. However, there is no prohibition on a Florida employer entering into an employment contract with a new hire.

  1. Your Employer May Have Included Overly Broad Contractual Provisions

Some Florida employers include restrictive provisions such as a non-compete clause, yet fail to properly narrow the scope and duration of the clause. This may make the clause unenforceable. Non-compete clauses typically limit an employee’s ability to work for a rival company for a specific period of time, if the employee decides to leave the current employer voluntarily. Most states require some narrowing language to be included in the clause, for duration on the period of enforceability; and the pertinent geographic limitation. For example, a reasonable non-compete clause would be for a period of two years or less and limited to the geographic region of Fort Lauderdale and surrounding localities within a twenty-mile radius (if your current employer’s sole place of business is in Fort Lauderdale). An unreasonable non-compete clause would be for more than two years; and with no mention of geographic limitation. Even worse, some employers simply include a non-compete provision and fail to discuss both duration and geographic limitations. Such a broad and vague provision is ripe for challenge.

  1. Your Employer May Have Failed to Provide Reasonable Consideration

An employment contract requires something called “consideration.” This is a legal term describing a bargained for benefit. Reasonable consideration would include a pay increase, stock options, vacation time, expense account, or another compensatory benefit for the employee. This means that if an employer asks you to sign an employment contract and agree to its terms, without reasonable consideration, a court may consider the agreement to be too one-sided and determine that it is void.

  1. The Employment Contract May Contain Improper Provisions

If an employment contract contains an improper or an inappropriate provision, it may be automatically deemed null and void. For example, some employers try to include choice-of-law provisions that are obviously meant to benefit the employer in the event of litigation. The provision typically mandates adhering to the law of a state that has the most employer-friendly statutes and regulations. This tactic has been challenged in court by employees and such provisions have been deemed unenforceable by Florida courts.

Severability Provisions

If a court holds that a provision of your employment contract is unenforceable, the battle does not necessarily end there. Many employment contracts include severability clauses. These clauses state that where any term or provision is deemed unenforceable or void, it is severed, or removed, from the rest of the contract and the remaining provisions remain intact. Severability clauses allow a court to strike out problematic provisions without voiding the entire contract.

Contact a Fort Lauderdale Employment Contract Lawyer Today

As you can see, legally challenging employment contract provisions can be difficult. This is why you need an experienced employment attorney on your side. The Fort Lauderdale law firm of Mark J. Berkowitz, P.A. can effectively counsel you in an employment dispute and determine whether your contract is legally enforceable. Contact his office today to schedule a meeting.

The 2018 Florida Statutes