If you are unhappy with your current employer either because of compensation, a bad working relationship with your boss, or perhaps the job is either not enough or too challenging, there are a variety of things you should consider when changing jobs.
Most New Hampshire employees are employees at will which under New Hampshire law means they can be fired or quit with or without cause or notice. If you are an executive with a written employment agreement, you might have a notice requirement and specific provisions as to when you are able to quit with and/or without good cause and how that impacts your severance benefits. In addition to any agreement to provide notice, if you want to maintain a good reputation as an employee, you should give the minimum notice requirement in that industry which is usually at least two weeks, but in some industries may be a full 30 days or more.
Irrespective of whether or not you are an employee at will, you still have restrictions during your employment and post-employment to keep proprietary information confidential. You may also have an agreement which, while not effecting your ability to get fired or resign, may prohibit soliciting employees, customers, or vendors away from your employer for a period of time and your agreement could go further prohibiting you from competing in the industry for a certain period of time. If you think you may leave the company to work for a competitor, you will want to review that signed agreement with employment counsel. Such employment non-competes are narrowly construed and in some circumstances completely unenforceable.
If you are considering leaving your employer because of your boss’ sexually harassing behavior, or you are not being compensated appropriately, or for some other legitimate reason that could rise to a legal claim, you may want to speak with an attorney as to whether or not it is more prudent for you to find a new job before making any claims. While many state and federal statutes prohibit retaliation against you for making a good faith claim, you would probably prefer to land a replacement job first and since you are currently employed the new potential employer would unlikely contact your current boss for a reference. Resumes and employment applications should also be scrutinized for accuracy in that you do not want to enhance your job titles or fill in gaps in your employment.
Lastly, when you do leave the employer, you should not be downloading confidential information, taking company equipment, or otherwise acting unprofessionally in that you only have one reputation. Even if you believe your employer has treated you badly, those around you will consider how you act when faced with adversity. Also a new potential employer should look at that as a proven track record that you are a thief that could do the same to that employer if it hired you.
J. Daniel Marr is a Director and Shareholder at Hamblett & Kerrigan, P.A. His legal practice includes counseling businesses and individuals on a variety of legal issues and advocating on their behalf. Attorney Marr is licensed and practices in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Attorney Marr can be reached at [email protected].