This is just another example of how employment laws in the US are skewed incredibly towards the employer
Er, the laws vary and can be changed by contract. More over in many states it is likely that if you can do a reasonably good job of showing that you worked on code on your own time using your own resources and your employment contract doesn't explicitly claim non-work activities it is yours.
I don't see any problem with laws that say "if the employee agrees anything they own belongs to the company". It is quite unfair if that happens when you don't agree. I think for the most part companies try for "all your work belong to us" so if you really do something on their time and claim you did it on your time it won't matter because they will still own it. As others have said you can frequently alter the contract before you sign (well you can always alter it, they frequently accept the changes).
Are you posting in the right place? Check out Where do I post X? to know for sure.
Posts may use any of the Perl Monks Approved HTML tags. Currently these include the following:
<code> <a> <b> <big>
<blockquote> <br /> <dd>
<dl> <dt> <em> <font>
<h1> <h2> <h3> <h4>
<h5> <h6> <hr /> <i>
<li> <nbsp> <ol> <p>
<small> <strike> <strong>
<sub> <sup> <table>
<td> <th> <tr> <tt>
Snippets of code should be wrapped in
<code> tags not
<pre> tags. In fact, <pre>
tags should generally be avoided. If they must
be used, extreme care should be
taken to ensure that their contents do not
have long lines (<70 chars), in order to prevent
horizontal scrolling (and possible janitor
Want more info? How to link or
or How to display code and escape characters
are good places to start.