The nuances of contract law are always evolving. Because contract drafting and enforcement is such a complex legal process, it can seem truly foreign to most Americans, even though most adults in the United States consent to contractual agreements on a regular basis. From medical consent forms to user agreements associated with visiting your favorite websites, purchase agreements to forms associated with your child’s extracurricular activities, you likely consent to contracts multiple times each month.
The key to understanding the fundamentals of contract law is to truly grasp what makes contracts binding. There are seemingly endless varieties of contracts and a host of exceptions to general contract rules may apply under various circumstances. However, the vast majority of contracts are made binding primarily not by the ways in which they are drafted or consented to, but that they are consented to at all.
Nowadays, many binding contractual agreements are consented to with the click of a button. Think about the process of consenting to a user agreement when it pops up on a website that you frequent. Sometimes, you may be asked to click on an “I agree” icon before continuing to utilize the site in question. At other times, the very act of continuing to use a site after you have been notified of a user agreement’s terms indicates contractual consent. As the daily realities of American life have evolved, so has contract law evolved in order to obtain consent in new, easy ways.
Unfortunately, easily obtained and supplied consent does not always benefit those on the receiving end of proposed contractual terms. Oftentimes, consent is asked for in such a legally dense and simultaneously cursory way that it is difficult to know exactly what one is consenting to. Popular culture often references the iTunes user agreement as an excellent example of this challenge. Few individuals choose to read these legally dense terms before opting to access their music and even fewer possess the legal credentials that allow them to understand these terms.
Binding Employment Contracts
Unless an employment contract has been compromised by fraud, coercion or another illegal force, an employee’s consent will generally be considered valid once it is given. This is often true regardless of how that consent is manifested. For example, if an employer requires an employee to sign his or her employment contract electronically, that “signature” will generally be considered valid. Unless a state legally mandates an employer to provide the employee with a physical or electronic copy of that contract, the terms of the contract will be considered valid and enforceable even if a signed copy is not provided to that employee.
It is worth noting however, that many variables beyond contractual consent may render an employment contract invalid. If you have concerns that you may have consented to a contract that is no longer valid due to any number of reasons, it may benefit you to speak with an attorney experienced in matters of employment and/or contract law.
Answers to Employment-Related Legal Questions
If you have questions related to contract drafting and enforcement generally or employment contracts specifically, please consider reaching out to the team at LawTrades. We have extensive experience in the drafting and enforcement of employment contracts, business contracts, real estate contracts and a host of other binding agreements. Whatever your individual or business contractual needs may be, LawTrades will be happy to assist you or direct you to excellent resources that are relevant to your specific situation.