If I’m buying an existing business and the current owner has clause in contract that I can’t hire a certain individual, can I legally hire him?

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If I’m buying an existing business and the current owner has clause in contract that I can’t hire a certain individual, can I legally hire him?

I want him on my staff.

Asked on September 14, 2011 under Business Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You say the contract has a clause saying you can't hire that individual. If you have already signed that contract--i.e. if you have already agreed to that limitation--then you must honor it and you can't hire him or her; a contractual agreement to not hire a certain person is enforceable. If you have not yet signed the contract, get that clause negotiated out of there if it's important for you to be able to hire this person--again, once you sign the contract, you are bound by it, and you would likely be obligated to not employ that person even if you tried to get around the provision by employing the person as a freelancer or independent contractor instead of as an actual employee: the courts, in enforcing agreements, look to what the parties intended and will not allow transparent attempts to violate a contractual terms clear meaning.


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