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Contract will still stick, even if employee fails to read it

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

When faced with a multipage employment contract, some job candidates and employees may be tempted to skip a careful reading before they sign on the dotted line.

The good news for New York employers: State courts won't excuse employees who claim that they didn't understand the employment terms because they never read them. You can rest assured that a signed contract will be enforced, whether it's read or not.

Recent case: Star-struck Bianca Nardi was a 21-year-old college grad who'd never held a job before earning a position with the Maury Povich television show.

She was asked to sign an employment contract but later said that she was so "dazed" by the "heady prospect" of working for a national TV network that she never read the agreement and didn't realize it included an arbitration agreement.

Apparently the glamour of the TV world quickly lost its luster, because Nardi filed a sexual harassment lawsuit within two years. The employer argued that the case should go to arbitration, and the court agreed.

Neither Nardi's youth nor her starstruck excitement excused her from reading and understanding what she signed. (Nardi v. Povich, et al., No. 10554/06, Supreme Court of New York, New York County, 2006)

Final tip: It's still vital to make employment contracts as reader-friendly as possible. Employees can file lawsuits if the wording is so complicated or confusing that the average person could be baffled by the interpretation.  

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