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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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.


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