New Hampshire and Vermont are both “employment-at-will” states. This means that either the employer or the employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason, subject to some exceptions. For example, if a federal or state law grants an employee the right to engage in an activity such as jury duty, National Guard duty, or participating in a discrimination investigation, the employee cannot be retaliated against for engaging in that activity. Similarly, employment contracts change the “at will” relationship and the employment relationship is then governed by the contract.
Having an employment contract with key employees such as executives can be a critical practice in today’s employment environment. First, and employment contract can provide behavioral guidelines for executive that are critical for an employer to have in writing, such as prohibitions against sexual harassment, discrimination, and providing gratuities to customers or government employees that would be considered bribes, as well as putting in writing the employer’s affirmation of equal employment opportunities for the executive’s subordinates. Second, the contract can set out clear expectations as to the executive’s anticipated performance and a mechanism for termination if his or her performance goals are not met. And, probably most importantly, having an employment contract with an executive is the only way a company can obtain an enforceable non-compete agreement that would prevent the executive from taking and using proprietary information from the company for use in a successive job or taking other key employees from the company with him or her if the executive leaves.
Our law office has been helping New Hampshire and Vermont companies draft or update employment contracts for approximately 30 years. If your company needs legal assistance with to develop or update an employment contract for executives, call us at 800-909-LAWS (5297) or submit a questionnaire through this website.