NEWS AND RESOURCES
Today, Helen guided women business owners along the path to starting a business and ensuring it is compliant with the law. She spoke about “Legal Entities and Startup Steps in Illinois,” examining nuances of Corporations, LLCs, and LLPs. She also explored other important areas to consider when forming a business, from subjects concerning insurance and intellectual property to selecting a name and establishing a registered agent.
Helen returned as Co-Panelist in the third installment of Protecting Your Employee Assets a 7-part webinar sponsored by Financial Poise. In “Show Them the Money: Wage & Hour Compliance,” Charles Krugel moderated a conversation centered around the Fair Labor Standards Act. Helen, Max Barack and Gary Savine discussed the Act’s various applications with regard to overtime pay, administrative exemptions, and tipped employees. The series continues April 20th with “The Impact of Communicable Diseases, Including Coronavirus, on the Workplace.”
Today Ms. Bloch presented to a group of women business owners on Covid-19’s impact on the workplace. She examined new laws and policies regarding mask-wearing, vaccines, sick-leave and PTO in response to evolving guidance on Covid-19 safety protocols. Her co-presenter, Susan Gotham of Gotham Professional Services, explored salient examples of the way the new laws have been implemented by businesses.
We are proud to announce Helen Bloch’s fourth consecutive Super Lawyer nomination. Super Lawyers Magazine has recognized Ms. Bloch as a 2022 Super Lawyer in employment law. Super Lawyers Magazine recognizes lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Attorneys selected to receive this honor are considered to be among the top 5% of lawyers in their respective state.
Helen joined her colleagues Max Barack and Gary Savine in “Welcome to the Team! Recruiting and Hiring, Including Restrictive Covenants”, the first of seven webinars produced by Financial Poise. The series, “Protecting Your Employee Assets: The Life Cycle of the Employment Relationship 2022” is moderated by Charles Krugel and walks its listeners through the several stages of the employer-employee relationship. Today’s episode featured a nuanced discussion touching on the questions: “What is the difference between an employee and an independent contractor?”, “Can employers use social media to conduct background checks on job candidates?”, and “How have post-employment agreements changed over the years?” among others. Tune in on February 22 for the next webinar in the series “An Ounce of Prevention: Policies, Procedures and Proactivity”.
Helen was honored to be a guest lecturer at Loyola University’s Employee Relations class taught by Professor Charles Krugel. Helen and her colleague Max Barack spoke about their first-hand experience with labor and employment law and provided insight into the mistakes businesses commonly make, especially when conducting work-place investigations. Additionally, they fielded questions from the students on future trends and best practices in the workplace. Helen puts great value on education and preparation of university students for the professional world.
Non-competes, criminal histories, and increased penalties for failing to pay wages were some of the topics Helen touched on when she addressed a group within the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. Her presentation, focusing on new developments in employment law, included recent amendments to the Illinois Freedom to Work Act, Illinois Wage Payment and Collection and Minimum Wage Acts, and Illinois Human Rights Act.
Helen returned to Employee to Lawyer to dive deeper into Employment Law. Helen highlighted the subtleties of hiring and severance negotiations between companies and their executives drawing from her experiences guiding clients from both perspectives. On one hand, she discusses a common trend in employee termination: the long-standing, well-performing employee who comes under new management and suddenly is accused of underperforming and violating company policy. The inherent ambiguity common in company policies becomes the battle-ground for potential discrimination cases. When working with her business clients, Helen discusses how she works to protect employers from unwarranted accusations stemming from such ambiguous policies.
Helen Bloch and her co-panelist Gail Eisenberg presented a continuing legal education course to the Decalogue Society of Lawyers on the topic of Hiring and Maintaining a Diverse Workforce. To achieve diversity in the workplace the presentation included best practices for job posting and beyond. It featured data attesting to an increased likelihood of financial performance above the national industry median in companies with strong gender diversity and greater overall profitability with diverse executive teams and boards of directors. Additionally, diversity-friendly practices were applied to each stage of the employment cycle with tips on facilitating the establishment of an optimal workplace.
Helen Bloch recently appeared on Illinois NELA’s podcast “Employee to Lawyer” to discuss Workers’ Compensation, Employment Law and Covid-19, as well as an Amicus brief she wrote on behalf of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers. Workers’ compensation can be murky. In the podcast, Helen breaks down into 3 simple categories the benefits to which injured employees are entitled under Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation Act. She also discusses the intersection between workers’ compensation and other areas of the law. Challenges faced by injured workers in obtaining workers’ compensation benefits are addressed too. At the end of the show, listeners will hear about an interesting case in which Helen was involved on behalf of the bar association where she served as a president. The Decalogue Society filed an Amicus brief before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the EEOC v. Walmart case. In the case, the EEOC alleges Walmart engaged in discrimination against a sabbath observant prospective employee. Said employee informed Walmart that as a Seventh-day Adventist he could not work Friday after sundown through sundown Saturday in observance of his faith. The Amicus attests to the historic hardships individuals of faith have experienced in the workplace while endeavoring to maintain their religious observance. In particular, the brief recounts the experiences of Jews who suffered directly for similarly observing the Sabbath. It implores the court to consider the great threat to diversity and inclusion when religious observance is not accommodated in the workplace. Click the title for the brief in its entirety. Click here for a link to the podcast.
In an article for the Spring 2021 Decalogue Tablets, Helen wrote on best practices concerning payment in the workplace. A recent ruling of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit found that a discrepancy in starting pay was due to discrimination and that each paycheck following the starting salary was a new case of discrimination. Additionally, the Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2019 was amended to provide further protection for job applicants and workers by making it illegal for an employer to ask about salary history. Helen discussed what the ruling means for employers and recommended an appropriate course of action. Consult her article for more information on the applications of the court ruling and recent legislation involving compensation in the workplace.
Decalogue’s President Patrick Dankwa John was featured in an article in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin in which Helen was quoted. As Decalogue’s Immediate Past President, Helen gave statements on the historic nature of John’s presidency. John is the first Christian and African American to lead the Jewish bar association. Furthermore, he is likely the first president of an affinity bar association who is not a member of that bar association’s unique affinity group. Notably, John’s presidency affirms the verity of Decalogue’s mission statement, which incorporates diversity and inclusion. John took office in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic and has responded deftly to the novel challenges Decalogue faces. His bounteous leadership continues to lead Decalogue through the adversity of the pandemic.
Helen Bloch was named a “Top Rated Employment & Labor Attorney in Chicago” for the third consecutive year. Super Lawyer notes The Law Offices of Helen Bloch, P.C.'s experience in the areas of Employment and Labor, Business and Corporate, Employment Litigation, Business Litigation, State, Local and Municipal, and Workers’ Compensation Law. Super Lawyer considers peer recognition and professional achievement in its bestowal of this honor.
Helen took part in the Women’s Business Development Center’s recent virtual workshop “Starting Your Business in Illinois” as the featured legal practitioner. Her talk covered five basic steps of how to get your business up and running, from deciding how to structure your business, to selecting a name, obtaining insurance, to necessary registrations and paying your employees. The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) is a non-profit organization that provides programs and services that support women’s business ownership and success. Click the title above to learn more about the WBDC and what they offer.
Recently, Helen spoke at a virtual CLE entitled “Managing Kids, Law School, and Judaism” on behalf of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers. Judge Rachel Freier told her amazing story of perseverance as the first Hasidic woman to become a judge and in fact, the first Hasidic woman to run for any government elected office. Among her many accomplishments is starting an all-female ambulance service, as the Hatzalah ambulance service in the New York area refused to allow women to join. There is a documentary called “93 Queen” that discusses the EMT service she founded and she was interviewed on Megan Kelly’s television show. Click the title above to go to Decalogue’s Facebook page and view a recording of this inspiring CLE from November 22nd.
Helen presented with co-panelist Michele Katz of Advitam IP to the Boardroom Exchange of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). The group thought outside the box to have an in-person meeting that was still safe, utilizing an open garage, social distancing, and PPE when they had to be closer. Helen’s presentation focused on privacy in employment as it relates to 5 key areas: the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), Artificial Intelligence Video Act, Communications & Technology, Illinois Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was a relaxed, but very informative, talk and being able to do it in person was an added bonus.
Helen was honored to moderate the continuing legal education program on the topic of BDS and the First Amendment with such distinguished speakers as Consul General Aviv Ezra, Congressman Brad Schneider, Professor Sheldon Nahmod, and Richard Goldberg. The talk was full of interesting information, not the least of which is that the government itself has speech rights too. The program can be viewed on the Decalogue Society of Lawyers Facebook page.
Helen teamed up with Chicago Minds, a social startup that aims to create a supportive community for both mental health providers and individuals seeking services, to present a virtual workshop to mental health practitioners on starting a business in Illinois. Helen introduced five basic startup steps, which covered everything from selecting a practice name to legally forming the business, procuring the requisite insurance, securing a registered agent, and obtaining a tax identification number. She also addressed certain employment issues that may impact small business owners.
Helen was one of four panelists that presented on employment law and COVID-19 to the Decalogue Society of Lawyers bar association in a continuing legal education class. Her topic included new laws that became effective in 2020 that impact the workplace, including those that pertain solely to COVID-19. Specific topics addressed were the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, requirements for employers to post certain legal notices where employees could access them whether in the workplace or virtually, making the environment safe for employees, information for employees on unemployment benefits, and expense reimbursement for employees when they work from home.
An additional lecture has been added to the 2020 webinar series Employee Assets: The Life Cycle Of The Employment Relationship hosted by WestLegal and Financial Poise in which Helen Bloch is a featured panelist. The brand new webinar is entitled “The Impact of Communicable Diseases, Including Coronavirus, on the Workplace" and addresses communicable diseases, with an emphasis on the current global health crisis, and their impact on the workplace, both from the employer and employee point of view. The full series, which runs through July 2020, takes place monthly on topics including the hiring process, workplace policies and procedures, wage and hour compliance, managing leaves and accommodating disabilities, workplace investigations, and minimizing risks when terminating employees. Webinars are available for viewing after the live presentation. Click on the title above to register for the upcoming webinar and to view past episodes online.
Helen presented virtually to dental practitioners around the country regarding employment law and the impact a pandemic like COVID-19 has on the workplace. Though the presentation was geared towards dental practices in particular, there are many relevant takeaways for all businesses with under 500 employees. Additionally, if you happen to be a dentist, viewing the presentation may count towards your continuing education requirements. Click the title above to view Helen's presentation.
Helen did a presentation for the Lincoln Park NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) BXG regarding the many new employment laws that became effective in 2020 and their impact on small business owners. The informative presentation included a great group discussion.
During a workshop held at the Women's Business Development Center (WBDC) this month, Helen spoke to local entrepreneurs about starting a business in Illinois. She introduced five basic steps to get a business up and running. This covered everything from selecting a name to paying taxes and hiring employees. Helen also reviewed the different types of legal entities and explained which business structures are best for startups.
Helen is a panelist in the 2020 webinar series Employee Assets: The Life Cycle Of The Employment Relationship hosted by WestLegal and Financial Poise. The full series, which runs through June 2020, consists of 6 webinars that take place monthly on topics including the hiring process, workplace policies and procedures, wage and hour compliance, managing leaves and accommodating disabilities, workplace investigations, and minimizing risks when terminating employees. Webinars are available for viewing after the live presentation. Click on the title above to register for the upcoming webinar and to view past episodes online.
We are proud to announce that once again Helen Bloch has been recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as a Super Lawyer for 2020 in the field of employment law. Super Lawyers Magazine recognizes lawyers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only 5% of the total lawyers in each state are selected to receive this honor. We are thrilled to be recognized as among the best lawyers in the area!
Helen was privileged to speak at the Decalogue Society of Lawyers event honoring Decalogue members and their family members who are veterans. In her remarks, Helen noted, “when conflict occurs the ultimate goal in Judaism is for there to be peace. But Judaism recognizes that war is sometimes necessary. It is with these principles in mind that we honor the heroes who have served our country. If they are anything like my father Marvin Bloch, who enlisted in the marines in WWII, and his father Nathan Samuel Bloch, who was in the army in WWI, they are people of peace. They have no desire to raise their voices or bear arms and enlisted to serve their country out of self-defense. It is an extraordinary sacrifice that we must never forget. Many heartfelt thanks to all who have served our country.” The program featured several members of Decalogue, including veteran William Wigoda who commanded the local Marines Color Guard, veteran and executive board member Patrick John who spoke of his own military service while he honored the veterans, and brothers Barry and Mitchell Goldberg who lead a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
Helen Bloch attended the November 2019 Bar Admission Ceremony where Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke administered the Attorney’s Oath to new admittees. Helen joined several other bar association dignitaries, including the Illinois State Bar Association, the Asian American Bar Association, and the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association, in welcoming the state’s newest attorneys to the legal profession. All who were sworn in passed the Illinois State Bar Examination, a required ethics examination, and were certified by the Supreme Court Committee on Character and Fitness. The bar admission ceremony is a candidate's first official court appearance. Congratulations to Illinois' newest lawyers on this great accomplishment! Click above to see more photos from the ceremony.
Helen Bloch, President of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, spoke at Loyola University of Chicago School of Law’s event for students and bar association leaders. During the program, Helen and other bar association leaders discussed leadership, scholarship, and the importance of participating in bar associations. Helen is an active member of several bar associations and knows firsthand the impact they can have on one’s legal career.
Helen Bloch represented the Decalogue Society of Lawyers in the annual Building Bridges event with the Arab American Bar Association. Helen presented the Building Bridges Award to Professor Ralph Ruebner; Professor John Breen was also recognized. During the event Helen spoke about how the Jewish and Arab American communities can come together like a family, where both can agree to disagree on certain issues and still celebrate their diverse heritages together. She also touched on the concept of respecting various opinions something that is fundamental to the Jewish tradition. This year the event was held at Polsinelli PC and the theme was Honoring the Educators.
Justice Michael Hyman installed Helen Bloch as the 2019-2020 President of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers during its 85th Annual Installation and Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. During her acceptance speech she noted two goals she wanted to achieve during her presidency: increase the participation of women in the Society and profession as a whole, and expand Decalogue’s anti-Semitism Committee so that the Society could engage proactively to improve diversity, and quell violence and hate speech. Here are a few photos to give you a glimpse into the night.
Helen Bloch addressed NAWBO’s Lincoln Park Business Exchange on attracting and hiring diverse employees. Helen explored how to encourage diversity throughout the entire hiring process from advertising the position to reasonable accommodations in the workplace. Helen discussed ad placement and how it can limit the reach to potential applicants. She also advised the group on how to draft job applications and prepare interview questions that are not tailored to elicit information about a candidate’s membership in a protected class (disability, order of protection status, sexual orientation, etc.). Maintaining a diverse workforce is an important business strategy that can enhance an organization’s culture and drive its financial performance. Before engaging in a business relationship, many companies are inquiring of potential business partners information as to their diversity practices.
Helen Bloch moderated a continuing legal education panel on surrogacy law and its impact on families from both a secular and Jewish legal context. The esteemed panelists included Dena Levy of Levy Law Solutions, Rabbi Chankin-Gould of Anshe Emet Synagogue, and Rabbi Wolkenfeld of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation. The panel discussed several aspects of surrogacy, such as the emotional impact infertility has on families, costs involved with retaining a surrogate and various contract negotiations. Surrogacy contracts can detail everything from what foods the surrogate may eat to which activities she may perform while carrying the fetus. This informative program was co-sponsored by several organizations including the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, A Wider Bridge, Hadassah, JCFS Chicago, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, and the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago.
Helen Bloch authored an article published in the Illinois State Bar Association’s March 2019 Illinois Bar Journal. The article discusses the recent amendment to the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act that requires employers to reimburse employees for expenses incurred while performing their jobs. Helen explains the ramifications of this new law and provides simple steps Illinois employers can take when handling their employees’ expenses. She also uses a similar law in California to predict how Illinois courts may rule when determining which expenses are eligible for reimbursement. Click above to read the article in its entirety.
The John Marshall Law School hosted a panel discussion on women and diversity in the legal field. Helen Bloch and her co-panelists addressed discrimination against women and the challenges facing women today in the legal field. Helen Bloch was honored to have this opportunity to provide some guidance to the next generation of lawyers.
At a workshop held at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), Helen Bloch lectured entrepreneurs on starting a business in Illinois. Helen introduced five basic startup steps which covered everything from selecting a name to paying taxes and hiring employees. Helen also reviewed different types of legal entities and explained which business structures are recommended for startups.
We are pleased to announce that Helen Bloch has been selected by Super Lawyers Magazine as a Super Lawyer for 2019 in the field of employment law. The Super Lawyers designation, conferred upon the most respected legal practitioners in the state, is based upon peer recognition and professional achievement. Only 5% of the total lawyers in each state are selected to receive this honor. We are thrilled to be recognized as among the best lawyers in the area!
Helen Bloch authored an article in which she examines a recent federal appeals court decision involving male on male sexual harassment and gender discrimination. She uses the court’s ruling to explain what future cases need to establish in order to prevail on their gender discrimination claims. Helen also discusses the broader impact of this decision, questioning whether the judicial system is adequately upholding the federal law that protects employees from unwelcome sexually tinged language and touching. The article was published in the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois’ Fall 2018 newsletter and can be found on page 10 of the publication that is in the attached link.
The article, entitled “Case Law Update: Sexual Harassment, Where Are We Headed?”, uses a recent federal appeals court ruling to discuss sexual harassment of males. Helen explains how the court’s decision, which elaborates on the difference between sex harassment and sex discrimination, may impact future sex discrimination cases. But she also uses her own personal experience to debate whether parochial schools sufficiently educate students on the issues of consent, bodily autonomy, and workplace harassment. She argues that in order to prepare students for a modern world, sex education in all schools must include information about workplace harassment.
At a workshop at the Women's Business Development Center (WBDC) Helen Bloch explained to the attendees how to start a business in Illinois. From entity formation to selecting a name, Helen also discussed the role of a registered agent and office, insurance and licensing requirements, and best practices to shield oneself from personal liability.
At the East Bank Club Helen Bloch lectured to members of NAWBO’s Boardroom Exchange on recent legal decisions and legislation in the area of employment law. Her presentation included illegal interview questions, appropriate language for job ads, trade secrets, the effect of social media on restrictive covenants such as non-competition agreements, and misclassification of employees as independent contractors.
The article entitled New Doors Open for Older Employees focuses on a recent federal appeals court ruling that paves the way for older job applicants to sue employers for age discrimination. It examines the case Kleber v. CareFusion Corporation, No 17-1206, which was decided in April of 2018. Helen explains how the court’s decision may influence employers to change their hiring practices and the potential effect on job applicants. The article can be found on page 35 of the publication that is in the attached link.
Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County Timothy Evans installs Helen Bloch as the 2018-2019 First Vice President of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers during its 84th Annual Installation and Awards Dinner on June 27, 2018 at the Palmer House Chicago.
Helen Bloch addressed a group of business owners at Wintrust Bank on North Avenue in Chicago about legal issues that may arise in running a business. She discussed how to legally structure, form, and maintain a business. She briefly delved into issues concerning intellectual property and ended the conversation with the obligations a potential employer has to a potential employee.
Chicago-Kent hosted a panel discussion on the impact an attorney's faith has on the attorney's practice of law. Helen Bloch was honored to represent the Jewish faith and share her experience along with her distinguished co-panelists from different faiths.
Helen Bloch is quoted in an article about an alleged investigation into a Loyola Campus Safety Officer.
Helen Bloch presented at a continuing legal education course sponsored by the National Association of Women Business Owners and Decalogue Society of Lawyers at the Catalyst Ranch on the topic of forming and maintaining a business from a legal perspective. Co-panelists Michele Katz and Jessica Merino discussed intellectual property and financial aspects of becoming an entrepreneur. Here are a few of the photos showcasing the program.
Helen is the WBAI’s Member Monday Profile for the week of November 6, 2017. Click on the title to view her interview with the WBAI.
Our firm celebrated its 10th Anniversary at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago. It was a privilege for the firm to share this accomplishment over great food, delightful drinks, and enjoyable conversations with those to whom we owe our gratitude for bringing us to this milestone- our clients, colleagues, friends and family. Here are a few photos to give you a glimpse into the night.
The Honorable Moshe Jacobius officially installed Helen Bloch as the 2017-2018 First Vice President of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers.
Helen Bloch is a contributing author in the American Bar Association book Grit, the Secret to Advancement: Stories of Successful Women Lawyers. Using a study performed by the ABA's Commission on Women in the Profession, the book contains research on the importance of having a grit and growth mindset.
Helen Bloch introduces JD Gershbein of Owlish Communications at a Decalogue Society of Lawyers and Women’s Bar Association event at ISBA Mutual that she organized on the topic of marketing for lawyers using LinkedIn.
Helen Bloch was the speaker for a continuing legal education course sponsored by the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) on the topic of the intersection of workers' compensation and employment law in Illinois.
Helen Bloch moderated a continuing legal education panel on Social Media: Do the Laws Adequately Protect our Kids. The program was co-sponsored by the Decalogue Society of Lawyers, Akiba Schechter Jewish Day School, and Congregation Ezras Israel. The esteemed panelists included Senator Ira Silverstein, Deborah Pergament, Managing Attorney of the Children's Law Group, LLC, and Marsha Nagorsky, Associate Dean for Communications at the University of Chicago.
Helen Bloch addressed law students on the importance of networking at her alma mater IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Graduate psychology students at the University of Illinois at Chicago were lectured by Helen Bloch on the topic of subpoenas and responding thereto. She addressed rules that applied in federal versus state court and at certain administrative tribunals, discussed preparation as an expert versus fact witness and explained setting fees.
Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County Timothy Evans installs Helen Bloch as the 2016-2017 Second Vice President of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers during its 82nd Annual Installation and Awards Dinner on June 29, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.
Helen Bloch addressed the National Association of Women Business Owners Lincoln Park Business Exchange on how to hire, fire, and properly classify one's workforce. Included in her presentation was when an employee should be considered exempt or non-exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and whether someone who provides services to a business may be classified as an independent contractor as opposed to an employee. Also, she provided tips on hiring and firing employees.
On June 2, 2016 Helen Bloch presented to the NAWBO Boardroom Exchange on the topic of Recent Legal Developments Affecting Businesses. She focused on the Department of Labor's final rule updating the salary requirements to remain exempt from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Illinois' pregnancy laws, and Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act.
Helen Bloch’s article entitled What Every Lawyer Should Know About Practicing in the First Municipal District was published in the WBAI's 2016 Winter Edition. Helen writes about her experience practicing in the varied courtrooms that comprise the First Municipal District and provides tips to practitioners concerning the importance of adequate preparation, providing visual aids to the trier-of-fact, and the impact of thoughtful closing arguments.
This documentary explores the religious, practical (writing and affixing), historical, legal and even hygienic aspects of the mezuzot. Helen Bloch’s legal involvement with a condominium association concerning mezuzot is featured in this documentary starting at 29:26.
Helen Bloch was honored on June 29, 2015 by the Decalogue Society of Lawyers with the Presidential Citation Award at the Union League Club.
Helen Bloch discusses non-compete agreements and employee versus independent contractor status.
On April 30, 2014 Helen Bloch moderated a continuing legal education panel at Greenberg Traurig LLP entitled Attorneys of Faith: Staying True to One’s Religion While Engaged in the Practice of Law.
Helen Bloch provides tips on reviewing an employment agreement/contract prior to starting a new job.