If I want to start my own business doing the same thing that I do at mycurrent job, can I legally do sowhile still employed?

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If I want to start my own business doing the same thing that I do at mycurrent job, can I legally do sowhile still employed?

My job is at a factory distributor for teeth whitening products and sales to do teeth whitening (teeth whitening not actually done where I work). I would like to have my own brand of teeth whitening gel and office actually doing the teeth whitening. Is it legal for me to develop this business while still being employed? If they find out can the fire me?

Asked on May 31, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Louisiana

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Did you sign a "non-compete" with your current employer? That is did you sign an agreement prohibiting you in some way from engaging in a competitive business enterprise? If you did than the terms of that agreement will prevail (subject to state law limitations). If not, then you are free to start your own business. In other words, you won't get into any legal trouble for doing so.

However, whether or not you will be fired is a different matter. Absent a union/employment contract (or some form of discriminatory employment practice) an employer can hire and fire employees "at will". This means that an employee can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all.  Therefore, if your employer finds out about your business venture they could choose to lawfully terminate your employment with them. 

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Did you sign a "non-compete" with your current employer? That is did you sign an agreement prohibiting you in some way from engaging in a competitive business enterprise? If you did than the terms of that agreement will prevail (subject to state law limitations). If not, then you are free to start your own business. In other words, you won't get into any legal trouble for doing so.

However, whether or not you will be fired is a different matter. Absent a union/employment contract (or some form of discriminatory employment practice) an employer can hire and fire employees "at will". This means that an employee can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all.  Therefore, if your employer finds out about your business venture they could choose to lawfully terminate your employment with them. 


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