The new television show, 666 Park Avenue, is a fun show about a luxury apartment building that has issues way beyond the normal plumbing problems. And the landlord? Well, as the Church Lady used to say on SNL, "Could it be Satan?" I think I had that landlord once.
The first show starts out with our hero couple finding the ideal job as managers of the building from hell. It all looks so nice, the tenants so happy. The new boss offers them more money than they imagined and a gorgeous apartment. He shoves a lengthy agreement in front of them. What's the worst that could happen?
Of course, our heroes sign without reading. And there's the big lesson for all employees: read what you sign. Your could be making a deal with the devil.
What could be in the agreement in this show makes me shudder to think. I'm sure we'll find out some of the worst provisions as the show progresses.
What could be in your employment agreement? There could be a noncompete provision saying you can't work for a competitor for a year or two. Or a nonsolicitation agreement, saying you can't solicit or communicate with clients, vendors and employees of the company for a year or two. I saw one that was so broad, my client couldn't talk to her bank about her own bank account if she signed. One would have barred my client from talking to his son for three years. You might have waived your right to a jury trial for any disputes against your employer, or have agreed to arbitrate, meaning you'll never get your day in court.
For writers, horror of horrors, there could be an intellectual property agreement saying that, if you thought of it or wrote it while you worked for them, even on their own time, they own it. That's right. Your blog, Twitter account, novel or nonfiction book about the workings of your industry might not be your own.
While you enjoy this fun new show, let it serve as a reminder to you: no matter how nice someone seems, read what you sign. You just might be making a deal with the devil.