Employment Agreements – WTF?

Below is an excerpt from an employment-at-will agreement that a well-known, >$5B market cap public engineering company makes its employees sign (emphases mine):

WHEREAS, INVENTIONS include only those conceived or made by the EMPLOYEE solely or jointly with others during or outside working hours within the term of the EMPLOYEE’S employment by the EMPLOYER…

1. What the fuck? This company must have a HUGE wheelbarrow they use to carry their cojones around in. It is entirely unreasonable to suggest every conceivable, commercializable thought that runs throgh your brain belongs to the employer. In the end, I’m certain this is not enforceable – but who the hell wants to pay to litigate it?

2. Notice that the ‘jointly’ language doesn’t say anything about ‘co-workers’ – it’s anybody. If this employee is kickin’ around ideas about widgets with his sister-in-law over Sunday dinner? Blammo. Chatting with random buds before the movie starts? Blammo. Walks into a meeting of entrpreneurs and suggests great improvements to some random dude’s product? Blammo. In-fucking-sane.

3. Shame on any employee for signing something like this. Ya gotta read these things, folks. DO NOT agree to moronic language like this!


  1. Pingback: The Educated Employee (TEE) « Myriad Missives
  2. Dan

    I completely agree with Will here. Market forces can dictate seemingly onerous contract language out of existence if people would simply have some accountability for what they sign. Oftentimes they are either too ignorant, too afraid of contradicting a potential employer or simply apathetic (lack of foresight / interest).

    Frankly, as an employer, do you really want employees of the above nature working for you? I realize that as you grow past a certain size, you’re stuck with what’s available out there (available intelligence falls, I’m willing to bet, logarithmically) – and at a 5BB+ company, you’re sure to have any number of “clock-in, clock-out” types. I suppose they get what they deserve.

  3. Will

    I totally agree that it’s the employee’s responsibility NOT to sign. Too many people chastise companies for having such agreements at all. Do we really expect companies to do things that market forces don’t guide them to do? Even worse, IMO, is asking the state to step in and forbid such things. If good employees and potential employees refuse to work for companies with such agreements, they will go away. Simple as that.

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