Rights of Employees
Employment Offer Letters
While some employers use formal employment contracts when they hire a new employee or promote one of their existing employees, many other employers in New York and New Jersey use informal offer letters instead.
An offer letter can be as simple as a sentence or two listing some basic information about the position and compensation, as detailed as a formal written employment contract, or anywhere in between.
An offer letter typically lists your job title, start date, salary, benefits, and any applicable bonus or commission plan. They also frequently include additional information about your job duties, responsibilities, hours, vacation time, sick time and other paid time off, as well as an overview of other important employer rules, policies and procedures.Is My Offer Letter Legally Binding?
Not all offer letters are legally binding. Whether your is legally binding depends on the circumstances, starting with the language of the document itself.
For example, if the letter sets forth your salary and benefits, then it is likely you are entitled to receive that compensation for as long as you remain employed, unless and until you are accept or agree to a change to your compensation going forward. Likewise, if the offer includes any guarantees, limits the employer’s right to fire you, or promises you anything else, those promises may be legally binding.
However, as with any other employment agreement, it is common for offer letters to make it clear that you are an employee at-will, meaning you can be fired (or resign) for almost any reason, or for no reason at all, as long as the employer does not engage in unlawful discrimination or retaliation, or violate another one of your employment law rights.
Similarly, written job offers sometimes include disclaimers. A disclaimer usually indicates that the employer is not legally bound by some or all of the promises set forth in the letter. A disclaimer can make it difficult or impossible to enforce those provisions. However, even if there is a disclaimer, employers usually cannot change your compensation retroactively, meaning they cannot reduce your salary or benefits after you already have performed the work, and cannot take away a guaranteed bonus or commission after you have earned it.Should I have an Employment Law Attorney Review My Offer Letter?
As with most other employment contracts, it usually is a good idea to have an experienced New Jersey employment lawyer review an offer letter before you formally accept the job. There might be terms you can improve, eliminate, or clarify such as severance pay provisions, non-compete agreements, non-solicitation clauses, or mandatory arbitration requirements. In addition, there could be terms that, after consulting with a lawyer, you might determine are unacceptable and would convince you not to accept the position.
If you have received an offer letter and would like a New Jersey employment lawyer to review it for you, then Rabner Baumgart Ben-Asher & Nirenberg, P.C. can help. We are experienced at reviewing and explaining job offer letters, as well as negotiating executive compensation and other employment contracts.
You either can call us at (201) 777-2250, or contact us online, to schedule a meeting with one of our New Jersey employment lawyers. Our office is conveniently located right off the Garden State Parkway, at 135 Chestnut Ridge Road, Suite 230, in Montvale, New Jersey. We also offer consultations in person, over the telephone, and via Zoom.Enforcing Your Offer Letter