If one of our competitors has offered me a part-time job in bookkeeping, canI take the job?

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If one of our competitors has offered me a part-time job in bookkeeping, canI take the job?

I work part-time and need to take another part-time job. The job will be after 5 pm so I will be on my time.

Asked on October 31, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Mississippi


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First question: do you have a noncompetition agreement of any kind? If you do, that agreement is most likely enforceable, so you need to review its terms and conditions.

If you do not have a noncompetition, you *may* take the job, in that the company cannot stop you from doing so. However, there are significant risks:

1) Obviously, if they become aware you are working for a competitor, you could be fired--after all, unless you have an employment contract guarantying or protecting your employment, you could be fired at any time for any reason, so you clearly could be fired if you are working for a competitor.

2) If you use any confidential knowledge from one job at the other--not just generall booking or procedural knowledge, but information about sales, customers, strategy, pricing or cost of goods, etc.--you will be committing a form of theft and could be sued.

3) If something bad happens to or at either company that *could* be your responsibility (i.e. it could be based on your actions or confidential information you have) and the company is aware you work for a competitor, then even if you are innocent of the act, you could still find yourself having some action taken against you--you might later be  vindicated, but would have to deal with the situation first.

Working for direct competitors at the same time can be a very dicey prospect; it's allowed legally (as long as there is no non-competition agreement), but there are, as noted, significant risks.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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