Can I start my own company with independent contractors who work on my team at my current job?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I start my own company with independent contractors who work on my team at my current job?

I am a manager at a resort photography business. I signed a contract when I was

offered the job that had a 2 year upon leaving the current company non compete and non-solicitation clause in it stating I wouldn’t compete with the company in the field of resort photography or solicit their contract photographers. I do not intend to work as a resort photographer. However, I would like to leave the company to begin my own photography collective that would include helping promote other independent contract photographers kind of like a photographer’s agent. We would focus on promoting each photographer for their own specialties and skills, and if I book work for them I would receive a percentage of the amount they make

from each job they book through my collective. Do I have to wait out the 2 year non-solicitation period after leaving the company? These photographers are not employees of the current company, so I don’t understand how they could prohibit them or me from working together legally? As stated above, we wouldn’t intend to offer any resort photography. We would offer other photo services such as wedding photography, marketing photography or adventure photography, etc.

Asked on October 1, 2018 under Business Law, Hawaii


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

They can prohibit you from working with their non-employee (i.e. contract) photographers because you apparently signed a contract with a non-solicitation clause barring you from "soliciting" their contract photographers--i.e. barring you from asking or inviting them to work with you. Such an agreement is valid and enforceable: people can contract away the right to do certain things. While you should double check exactly what that agreement says, since contracts are enforced according to their precise terms, if it says you can't work with them, you can't work with them.

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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