How do I know if my contract is legal and enforceable?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How do I know if my contract is legal and enforceable?

I’m graduating from massage therapy school and am going to work part-time for a wellness center. I was given a contract and it’s so confusing. I’m wondering how legal it is. First, she has listed as

therapist working full-time at a 70/30% agreement for the room owned and operated by the facility; I get 70% and they get 30% of all income generated by me. My rental period is for 1 year. They will

pay me Fridays.The part that’s fishy is it then says that I will be an independent contractor and have to carry and provide my own liability insurance. Then it talks about my dress, how I need to keep my workspace and even the music I play is at her discretion. I’m not allowed to sublet space

and then she put in a non-compete agreement saying that I cannot perform massage outside facility unless upon by her and if , I can’t practice for 2 years within a 30 mile radius.

Asked on May 6, 2019 under Business Law, Kansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It may be legal.
A massage therapist, like a hair stylist, can be an independent contractor, who rents his or her space, which is essentially what you would be doing: you'd be paying 30% of your gross as rent and are in fact leasing for one year. If you are an independent contractor, you would need to maintain your own insurance. 
Independent contrators can be subject to non-competition agreements: they are not limited to employees. Contractors can agree or contract to not compete.
The provisions about dress, how you keep your space, and music somewhat undercut that you would be independent, since generally, the line between independent contractor and employee is based on the degree of control the employer has over you: the more control, the more likely you are an employee. Similarly, the provision that the money goes to her, and she pays you (rather going to you, then you remitting the rent to her) undercuts independent contractor status, since that is another form of control she has. However, we cannot say 100% that these provisions would make you an employee, not an independent contractor, since there is some justification for them: e.g. the person controlling space and leasing to you can set general guideless for how the space must be kept and how people in their space must look or dress.
Moreover, even if you were more properly classified as an employee than independent contractor, that would not necessarily make all provisions of the contract, like the non-compete clause, invalid: courts will generally separate out and enforce provisions that are legal from those that are not, assuming the legal provisions can stand on their own--which the non-compete provisions would.
So if you do sign the contract, assume it *may* be entirely enforceable against you, and even if not, that at least parts of it would be. Therefore, if unconfortable with it, do not sign it--since in signing a contract, you are at a minimum making it likely that if you violate it, the other side will sue, and thefore force you to defend yourself in court. Since litigation costs money and is disruptive, if there is anything in the contract you are not comfortable with honoring, don't put yourself in a position of likely having to litigate in the future.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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