When you get an offer for a job, you will often be asked to sign an employment agreement. Though it’s important to always read agreements before you sign them, many new employees choose not to read the employment agreement. Sometimes the person is in serious need of a job, or maybe he is really excited about this job and doesn’t want to lose the opportunity because of some clause in the agreement. Whatever your specific reason is, you should be careful before you sign an employment agreement and read to see exactly what you’re agreeing to as an employee.
One type of clause that is common in these agreements is a forum selection clause. Forum selection clauses are usually used by companies that operate in more than one state. The purpose of the clause is to choose which state and which location will be chosen to handle employment disputes. For example, even though you work in Maryland, the corporation may select a region of Missouri and a court system there to resolve disputes. That means that when you are filing a lawsuit against your company, you may have to worry about the laws of Missouri instead of the laws of Maryland.
This can be a deceptive way for employers to get more control in disputes. If the work is being done in a state where there are strong employee rights, they may choose a forum in a state where employee rights are less strong.
What You Can Do
You will ultimately have to decide what you want to do if you see a forum selection clause. You can ask the company to remove it, but depending on how valuable you are and how large the company is, they may refuse. Unfortunately, there are many types of disputes that may require you to file a suit against your company including wages, benefits, and overtime.
In most cases, you will not have to worry about workers’ compensation disagreements, as disputes will have to be handled by the Workers’ Compensation Commission in Maryland. However, workers’ compensation disputes can sometimes lead to other disputes regarding pay, benefits, and wrongful termination. In those instances, it can be difficult to figure out where the lawsuit will be filed if you don’t have an attorney to help you.
Forum Selection and Maryland
Fortunately, Maryland courts have recently come out very strongly against forum selection. A recent case in the Maryland Court of Appeals refused the employer’s argument that the case should be heard in a different state. The court said that considering Maryland’s strong employment laws and history of protecting employees, courts in Maryland should reject forum selection clauses.
This situation is still quite unpredictable, but an attorney can help you navigate the process and make sure your rights are protected. If you need help exerting your rights to workers’ compensation and getting the benefits you are entitled to, one of our attorneys can help you. We specialize in workers compensation law, and you should call us if you need any legal guidance.