What can I do if I don’t agree to sign an employment contract but already work for the company?

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What can I do if I don’t agree to sign an employment contract but already work for the company?

I have been working for a jewelry company since 08/10. I an the only worker. I started as an independent contractor, but I work at their office and 40 hour week with a regular schedule, and with a rate per hour. The company put me in payroll 6 weeks ago. The owner is asking me to sign a contract in which she is establishing that I have to work for 2 months before I decide to quit. CA is an at-will employment state. At one point, I need to start looking for another job. But, nobody is going to wait for me to quit my older job for 2 months. I don’t want to sign something like that.

Asked on March 19, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

Aryeh Leichter / Leichter Law Firm, APC

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It sounds like you may have claims for wage and hour violations if you were paid as an independent contractor but functioned as an employee.  That may give you some leverage in negotiating a better deal.  Please call me at (213) 381-6557 or email me at leichterlaw@gmail.com if you would like to discuss the matter further.

All the best,

Ari Leichter

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, your employer can require you to sign an employment contract or agreement, even after you've been an employee for 6 weeks (after having first worked as an independent contractor for 5 months). Or rather: you can refuse to sign--the employer can't sue you for not signing--but then might be fired. As you say, CA is an employment at will state, which means that your employer may fire you at any time for any reason--including not signing an employment agreement.

So you have to weigh whether it is better to take the risk of being fired immediately, or to sign an agreement which will restrict your freedom to take a different job for 8 weeks.


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