Getting a new contract while under old contract…must I sign?

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Getting a new contract while under old contract…must I sign?

I’m writing in regards to a contract situation I have with my current employer. When I first was hired I was put under a 2-year contract. About a month ago, however my employer was bought out and is now asking us to sign new contracts. Must I? If I don’t sign this new contract, wouldn’t my original contract hold or am I considered unemployed if I don’t sign the new contract? The new contract lists a 3-month probationary period. I was told that this is standard practice but isn’t that policy for new hires? I’ve been employed with them for almost a year now, so I’ve already surpassed the initial probationary period. Am I considered a new hire again if I sign this new contract?

Asked on February 24, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If the employer with which you signed the contract was an LLC or corporation and the LLC or corporation was bought out so that you are still working for the LLC or corporation, then the first contract is still in force and effect and you do not have to sign a new contract until the current one expires. Once the current contract expires, however, you can be required to sign, on threat of termination, a contract which includes a probationary period or otherwise treats you as a "new" employee: when the current contract expires, you will be unprotected by contract and therefore would be an employee at will. That means you would have no rights to or protection for your job and the employer may take the opportunity to define the job however it likes.
You are also unprotected by contract if due to the buyout, you are not currently working for the same person (if previously you had worked for an individual, not an LLC or corporation) or entity (if you had been working for an LLC or corporation, but now are working for a different one--I.e. an entity with a different EIN--even if it is using the same name), since the contract is not with whom you are currently working for, and the new employer is not bound by the old one's agreement. You could be required to sign a new contract on pain of termination.


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