When a company hires new employees, there are various types of paperwork involved in the process. This also includes contracts to address what happens when an employee wishes to leave the company. If you are an employer, one of the documents you will want employees to sign is a non-disparagement agreement.
In an ideal world, all employees leave a company on good terms. However, this is not always the case, and the last thing you want is for former employees to make negative comments about your business. To protect your reputation from disgruntled workers, speak to a Georgia non-disparagement agreements lawyer at Sparks Law. Our skilled attorneys can help you draft a document that suits your needs.
Today’s social media is a forum for broadcasting opinions far and wide. An employer might not care if a former employee tells a few friends they were unhappy at their job, but if that employee criticizes the company to thousands of followers, they can do significant damage. For this reason, non-disparagement agreements are crucial to protect your business’s reputation.
Although disparagement and defamation are similar—both involve making negative statements about a person or entity—they differ in crucial ways.
Defamation is written or spoken comments so egregious that they harm a person’s reputation or business opportunities. If the communication is not true, and the speaker was spiteful, it is probably defamation.
However, the truth is a definitive defense to defamation. In other words, it is not defamation to communicate something negative if it is true. Also, people are expected to endure general negative opinions from others. To call someone a jerk would not amount to defamation.
Disparaging an employer involves communicating something negative about the company, its management, or its products and services. Non-disparagement agreements aim to stop former employees from communicating anything negative about the company, whether true or not. This could include:
Although an employer would probably not take action for breach if a former employee called them a jerk to a friend, they technically could with a non-disparagement clause in place.
Most non-disparagement agreements are presented with exit documents, and employers often require their signature to receive severance pay. Although these agreements could be part of the hiring process, employees typically understand that disparagement on the job would lead to termination.
However, if an employee believes they have been treated unfairly or illegally at work, they may be unwilling to sign upon exiting the company. A local attorney at our firm can further advise about the most beneficial timing for a non-disparagement agreement.
Non-disparagement agreements cannot stop a former employee from cooperating with a government agency. For instance, an employee may still speak with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) agents investigating a discrimination filing.
Additionally, employees hurt on the job can still file workers’ compensation claims even after signing a non-disparagement agreement. They can also cooperate with other government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency investigating toxic waste claims.
A non-disparagement agreement has consequences when one party breaches the contract. If severance pay is conditional on an employee signing and abiding by the contract, the employee may have to return the payment if a violation occurs.
Additionally, an employee might have to pay damages if the employer can prove their disparagement harmed the business. The contract may contain a liquidated damages clause that awards the employer a specific amount for each provable breach. A seasoned non-disparagement agreements attorney at Sparks Law can review the remedies section of your existing contract or draft a new one addressing these critical matters.
When disgruntled employees leave your company, they may want to retaliate by saying or writing negative things about your business. It is important to take precautions against this potential damage by working with a Georgia non-disparagement agreements lawyer.