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Blackwell Nixon Shelley Jr.

Blackwell Shelley’s Answers

2 total

  • Can I get in trouble for leaving my nanny position without giving notice, as long as the child has appropriate care?

    Terms of agreement have not been met with employer. I no longer wish to work here. Am I legally bound to stay with the child if mother is not present, if I have made adequate arrangements for the care of the child during the time of the mothers ab...

    Blackwell’s Answer

    In Virginia, as in most states, employment is "at will" unless the employment agreement says that it is for a definite period of time, or that the employee can only be terminated for cause. ("Cause" means some reason that is specified in the agreement, and usually includes things like insubordination, bad performance, and so on.) If your agreement with the employer does not say that it is for a definite period of time, or that it can only be terminated for cause, then your employment is "at will."
    The concept of at-will employment means that the employment relationship only exists for so long as both the employer and employee want it to exist. The employer can fire the employee for any reason, or for no reason at all, and the employee cannot sue the employer for the termination. (Some exceptions to this may apply, but they are rare and not apparent in the situation that you present.) By the same token, if the employment relationship is "at will" you can quit and the employer cannot sue you.
    You asked, however, whether you could get "in trouble" for "leaving" the child without giving notice to the child's parent or parents. Quitting is one thing, but leaving the child in the care of another may be something else entirely. What's more, "in trouble" could include a lot of things other than being sued for quitting without notice and I suspect from your question that you realize that. I do not know what the "adequate arrangements" are that you mention in your question, but it is entirely probable that the child's parents will not find these arrangements to be a satisfactory substitution for your services.
    If you are responsible for the child and leave the child unsupervised, or not properly supervised, and the child is endangered or hurt, then you are subject to being prosecuted criminally and sued civilly for the child's injuries.
    If you are going to quit, you must tell the parent/employer that you are quitting. When you quit (but not before) your duty to the child ends and it becomes the responsibility of the parent/employer to find someone else to supervise the child. Unless and until you quit, you should fulfill all of your duties with respect to the child and your employer.

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  • What do I need to be sure to include in an employee contract? Is alright to use one from someplace like

    I'm a small business owner hiring my first 2-3 employees in Richmond, VA. My main fear is hiring someone who doesn't meet performance goals and must be let go, but the process is difficult because of legal backlash from them.

    Blackwell’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Unless you want a restrictive employment covenant like a non-compete or non-solicitation provision, or you're keen to send employment matters to arbitration, you probably are fine without a written employment agreement in Virginia. Virginia case law is emphatic that the employment relationship is presumed to "at will" unless the parties specifically agree that the relationship is for a definite term or that it can only be terminated for some specified cause.

    If a non-compete or non-solicitation provision is what you're after, then a template contract is probably a waste of money. Virginia courts are also pretty emphatic that restrictive employment covenants must be narrowly tailored to fit the particular employee-employer relationship. If the covenant is too broad, either in time or geographic scope of the restriction, or in the employment function that is prohibited, then the whole covenant (and sometimes the whole agreement) fails. One size does not fit all.

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