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Many employers believe that if they get involved in a lawsuit and win, then the loser has to pay the employer’s attorneys’ fees. The unfortunate reality is that in most cases, that is not true. In most employment lawsuits, the deck is stacked against the employer when it comes to attorneys’ fees. For example, if an employee sues an employer for unpaid wages or discrimination and wins, the employee can recover his or her attorneys’ fees from the employer. If the employer wins those same lawsuits, however, it does not get to recover its attorneys’ fees from the employee.
There is one area where the attorney fee “playing field” is equal: written agreements. An employer may insert into its written agreements that if the employer prevails in litigation, the loser must pay the company’s reasonable attorneys’ fees. Common examples are non-compete agreements. If an employee leaves and violates his or her non-compete, a well-drafted agreement will provide that an employee who loses that lawsuit must pay the company’s legal fees.
The same applies to confidentiality agreements, employment agreements, severance agreements, and for independent contractors, contractor agreements. A company’s contracts with its vendors and customers also should provide that the employer can recover your attorneys’ fees if it is forced to sue the other party, and wins.
Consequently, it is crucial to have an experienced Maryland employment law firm review your company’s contracts — to probe for this issue and a variety of other red flags. At Luchansky Millman, our experienced Maryland employment lawyers review companies’ existing agreements and suggest improvements. We also draft new contracts for companies that don’t yet have them – such as Employee Handbooks, Separation Agreements and Releases, Vacation Policies, and Non-Compete Agreements. If your company is using contracts that have not been reviewed by a lawyer, or if you need new written agreements to be drafted, contact the experienced Maryland employment lawyers at Luchansky Millman.