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NFL Draft Lessons: 5 Legal Tips for Employment Contracts

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. | Last updated on

With first round of the 2014 NFL Draft now complete, the big news is that Johnny Football is officially a Cleveland Brown. But behind the scenes, the teams and players are both already moving on to next phase in their budding relationships: contract negotiation.

Even if you're not an NFL owner or a blue-chip draft pick, these five legal tips could help prevent you from getting involved in an employment contract dispute:

  1. Negotiate. They're called contract negotiations for a reason, because employment contract provisions are generally negotiable. However, negotiating an employment contract is sometimes easier said than done; NFL players hire agents to do it. You may want to follow their lead and hire an employment law attorney to negotiate for you.

  2. Read the Fine Print. All of It. When it comes time to sign, make sure you read the contract, especially the fine print. A FindLaw survey found that 82 percent of Americans read every last word on their employment contract -- which seems like a pretty solid number, until you consider that 12 out of 100 Americans don't know what they've legally contracted to do. Don't make that mistake.

  3. Know What's Binding and What's Not. Just because you put it in the contract doesn't mean it will be binding on the other party. For example, California invalidates almost all non-complete clauses in employment contracts.

  4. Know the Difference Between an Employee and an Independent Contractor. Although employees and independent contractors can perform many of the same duties, misclassifying yourself or your workers could cost you, as there are important differences in the legal rights of employees and contractors.

  5. Be Careful With Boilerplate Contracts. Many employers use boilerplate contracts in an effort to save time and money, there are legal risks to going the boilerplate contract route. If you choose to use a boilerplate contract, look it over (or have your lawyer do it) to make sure the contract terms suit your specific situation -- otherwise you'll be stuck with what's on paper.

If you are unsure about your rights under an employment contract, an employment law attorney can tackle your specific questions. If you're playing QB for the Cleveland Browns, however... good luck.

Follow FindLaw for Consumers on Facebook and Twitter (@FindLawConsumer).

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