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These Americans are trapped in their jobs: they need to pay $10,000 to quit

 

Dozens of news anchors robotically intoned “This is extremely dangerous to our democracy,” after reciting what turned out to be a script by Sinclair Broadcast Group, owner and operator of 193 local TV stations. Dan Rather called it Orwellian, and many have asked in amazement: why would local journalists across the nation allow themselves to be used in such a demeaning way? 

The answer is clear to me, as a lawyer with decades handling cases involving low-wage workers: people need jobs. But the anchors may have an even more specific concern: an employment contract that doesn’t just bind but entraps them.

Among other things, Sinclair contracts contain a requirement that employees must pay their employers if they leave their jobs before their contract terms end. For example, an employee making $50,000 annually might have to pay in the ballpark of $10,000 if she wanted to leave after one year of a two-year term.

While it’s plainly illegal to impose a penalty on employees for leaving a job, the contract describes this requirement as “liquidated damages”. But such damages are allowed only in very limited situations, such as when an employee leaves a job shortly after receiving, at the employer’s expense, costly, specific, and transportable training. This is hardly the situation for Sinclair employees.

The Sinclair contracts also contain a non-compete clause, barring employees from working for competitors for a set time period after separation. Non-competes have come under considerable public scrutiny of late, covering around 20% of workers, according to a recent reportRead More

 

Related news: Stock market extends surge despite slowing US job growth.  Read More