This is a very common question received by our New York Severance Package Attorneys. It is important to seek the advice of your accountant regarding taxation issues but here are some general tips. Generally, yes, severance pay is considered taxable as wages. In addition, payments you receive for accrued but unused vacation days and sick days are taxable. However, generally, your former employer’s payments to your health insurance provider for continued coverage under COBRA may not be attributed as income to you and may be tax-free to you. There could be potential tax consequences of payments for stock options, pension credits and outplacement services as well. Our New York Severance Package Lawyers have negotiated many severance pay agreements and can help you understand and maximize the terms of your severance package. Again you should seek the advice of your tax professional regarding your specific tax issues as we are not tax attorneys and cannot provide any specific advice.
Q: After considering several physician jobs, I just received a physician employment contract from a medical practice that I really like. However, the physician employment contract has a non-competition clause that would restrict me for 3 years after my termination of employment within a 10 mile radius of the medical office, which includes 2 hospitals. Should I sign this Doctor Employment Agreement?
A: Non-compete clauses (also known as restrictive covenants) are probably the most important facet of your physician employment contract. They should be negotiated carefully so as to decrease it scope and parameters as much as possible. The non-competition clause of your physician employment contract could mean the difference between having to move and relocate your family in the event the job does not work out. Our Physician Employment Agreement attorneys have helped physicians, medical doctors, physician assistants, nurses and other medical professionals safeguard their careers and their families by evaluating and negotiating the terms of a proper employment contract.
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This time of the year, our New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Physician Employment Agreement Attorneys are busy preparing, reviewing and negotiating employment agreements for physicians seeking jobs and medical practices seeking to hire physicians. Doctors who are finishing up their residencies and fellowships are in the process of evaluating job offers and trying to negotiate the best employment contract or partnership agreement, which in some cases, could end up affecting the rest of their career as well impact their personal life significantly. With that in mind, it is extremely important to negotiate and execute a contract that which will take into account the terms of your employment not just now, but in the following five to ten years. If you’re in the process of evaluating an employment contract or a partnership agreement, call our experienced Physician Employment Agreement Attorneys at (800) 893-9645 to help you negotiate the best possible contract terms.
You must negotiate the terms of your contract. Do not commit to a verbal offer. Ask for an employment contract and time for your attorney to review the contract. Many times an employee will not feel comfortable asking for better compensation, work schedule, or negotiating a clause. Our Physician Employment Agreement attorneys have negotiated numerous agreements to gain increased compensation and perks.
TIP #1: Analyzing your non-compete clause can mean the difference between your having to re-locate in case the job does not work out. A non-compete clause may bar you from joining another practice or even opening up your own practice in the restricted area for a certain period of time. Contrary to popular belief, non-competition and non-solicitation (of patients) clauses are enforced by the Courts if they are drafted reasonably. Many physicians mistakenly believe that agreements not to compete are not enforceable. Generally, that is not true. The law does not want to prevent you from working but could restrict you in a certain manner for a limited time period. Call our attorneys to help negotiate the parameters of your non-compete clause and make sure that it is does not adversely affect your livelihood and income potential.
TIP #2: It is imperative that you learn if and how the medical practice will cover your medical malpractice insurance, what level of coverage they will provide and whether it is an occurrence or claims based coverage. The terms of a malpractice insurance policy or coverage may not seem like a significant issue at the outset of your employment relationship but they could make all the difference if coverage is ever needed. Our experienced Physician Employment Lawyers can help negotiate the best type of coverage based on your specialty and specific needs.
TIP #3: If your employment contract is a stepping stone to a partnership track, make sure you ask how long you must remain an employee, what are the terms of the buy-in and buy-out for retiring physicians, and you should obtain copies of tax returns and financial statements. These are just a few things to keep in mind for physicians considering employment opportunities. Our experienced Physician Employment Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala can discuss all the intricacies involved in a partnership agreement so that you avoid future conflict or regret. Call us now for a confidential consultation at (800) 893-9645.
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Q: I’ve worked for the same investment bank for 4 years and I am nervous that I may get laid off. Is my Wall Street firm required to give me a severance package?
A: Except in very limited circumstances, the law does not require your employer to give you a severance package. In today’s economic climate, the growing tendency is to offer employees a package before they are terminated. We have seen circumstances where severance packages are not devices to “soften the blow” but a strategic, preemptive move by human resources to have you waive your right to sue for wrongful termination, discrimination, or sexual harassment. It is for this reason that we recommend that you call our experienced New York Severance Pay Attorneys for a confidential consultation today at (800) 893-9645. Do not sign a severance agreement without having an experienced attorney review it with you and, if appropriate, negotiate its terms.
Q: What Does A Typical Severance Package Look Like?
Peri Software Solutions, Inc., a New Jersey based IT company, and its President, Sarib Perisamya, were issued significant penalties by the United States Department of Labor for alleged violations of the immigration provisions applicable to H-1B employees. In total, Peri Software and Mr. Perismya received penalties and fines close to 1.5 million dollars for unpaid back wages to over 150 employees. Under the H-1B visa immigration guidelines, Companies can hire foreign workers for limited terms to perform certain professional occupations such as IT programmers, engineers, and physicians. As part of the program, Companies must pay H-1B employees the same wage rates paid to U.S. workers who perform the same types of work or the prevailing wage rate in the areas of intended employment, whichever is higher.
According to the investigation, the Company failed to follow the program guidelines to pay the required prevailing wage to its H-1B computers analysts. Further, it was determined that the Company caused employees to sign under duress employment agreements which included unreasonable penalties if employees left employment. Not only did the Company fail to pay its H-1B employees, it sued them for breach of its unreasonable penalty provisions in the employment agreements. Due to the serious nature of these actions, the Company was also assessed a civil penalty of over $400,000.00 and it may barred from hiring H-1B employees in future years.
It is an outrage that Peri Software and other companies take advantage of H-1B employees who are new to the country and unaware of their legal rights. Our employment law attorneys have represented many H1-B employees to protect their rights and continue their employment without being harassed by unscrupulous employers. Call our attorneys now to discuss how we can protect your job, assert your employment rights and defend you in a lawsuit if your employer is trying to force you a pay penalty for leaving your job. Many of penalty provisions in these types of employment agreements may be unenforceable.
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4) Restrictive Covenants. A non-compete clause will bar you from practicing medicine in a specified area for a certain period of time. In the event you leave or are terminated, the non-compete clause can impact your livelihood. For example, if the non-compete clause bars you from working in a 20 mile radius for 2 years, are you willing to move or drive 20 miles each way to get to work? During your early interviews with the practice, find out where the patients are coming from, other potential places of employment and their locations, and have an attorney help you analyze how radius impacts you. Remember practices that do not exist now but open within the specified restricted geographic area later may also be covered by your non-compete agreement. Limiting the non-compete clause should be of paramount concern. Although courts in New York and New Jersey generally do not favor non-compete clauses, courts will enforce them if the terms are reasonable. Moreover, if the terms are too broad, courts in New York and New Jersey may “blue pencil” or modify the non-compete clause to make the terms reasonable.
5) The contract should be specific about your work schedule, work load and number of calls. Make sure that the calls and the work load are equitably allocated. Find out how many calls per week or month everybody else in the practice is doing and how many physicians are you covering when on call. One of the most common reasons physicians change jobs is uneven distribution of work load and calls. Also clarify whether you will have your own office, secretary, assistant and other resources to help you.
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Understanding the intricacies of a physician employment agreement can be a daunting task when you’re fresh out of residency or fellowship and looking for your first real job or even when you are changing practices. Unlike many other professions, doctors and other medical professionals who join an established practice typically end up staying there for an extended employment term up to and including retirement. Thus, properly evaluating and negotiating your employment contract can affect how you will be paid and what your compensation will be based upon in subsequent years of your career. In addition, non-compensation issues such as defining and limiting the number of calls should be considered.
If you don’t effectively negotiate your employment agreement and later realize that the job wasn’t what you expected or you are terminated, your employment contract can play a major role in your next career steps. For example, the parameters of your non-compete clause will determine whether you are able to practice in the same geographic area. Before you sign or commit to a medical practice or hospital, you should consult with an experienced lawyer. Our employment lawyers have represented physicians practicing in various specialties including surgery, anesthesia, radiology, and obstetrics-gynecology with privileges at major New York and New Jersey Hospitals including Westchester Medical Center, Hackensack University Medical Center, Nyack Hospital, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York University (NYU), New York Presbyterian Healthcare System, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, and VA Healthcare Systems. Below are some general considerations for doctors and medical professionals to consider:
1) Negotiate. Don’t commit to a verbal offer without having your employment law attorney review the contract and negotiate better terms. Since you may be working with these people, you may feel uncomfortable asking for changes and negotiating better terms. Practices often try to discourage employees from seeking legal advice or counsel and say that the employment contract is non-negotiable but that is generally not the case and some terms usually can be negotiated.
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Possibly – it depends on the reasonableness of the terms. There has been a rise in lawsuits over non-compete agreements given the immense amount of money and time invested into employee training and their value. In this economic climate many employees are transitioning employers and are examining non-compete clauses contained in their employment agreements, confidentiality agreements or severance agreements. A non-compete clause is basically an agreement prohibiting you from leaving your employer and then working for a competitor or opening up your own business to compete with your former employer. Non-compete clauses are most prevalent in the medical, pharmaceutical, technology insurance, financial and entertainment services industries. Even celebrities such as Conan O’Brien, who is prohibited from competing with NBC until the fall, must comply with no-compete agreements. Before you sign a non-compete agreement, our experienced New York employment law attorneys can help you negotiate better terms and protect your rights which could affect your future employment. Our New York employment lawyers can help you get out of your non-compete as well.
New York courts generally do not favor non-compete clauses and do not like the idea of preventing an individual from working but they will enforce your non-compete agreement if its terms are reasonable. For example, in deciding whether a non-compete clause is reasonable or not, the court will examine what geographic area the covenant covers. This is fact specific analysis as a five mile radius in New York City may be overbroad and unreasonable but the same five mile radius in Central New Jersey may be reasonable. Courts consider the length of your non-competition provision. Again, the analysis is unique but terms of over two or three years may be considered unreasonable. If the employee was also a shareholder and owner in the business and signed a non-compete a longer term may be considered reasonable. In addition, the court will consider various factors, including the type of business, the location of the business and the customers, the nature of your responsibilities, the kind of customer contacts you developed, and the availability of comparable positions and the extent to which you can earn a living. Just because your employer drafted the agreement too broad does not necessarily provide you with immunity. New York courts may “blue pencil” or modify the covenant to make it reasonable if the terms are too broad and the agreement indicates that there was intent for the court to do so.
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