Is it legal for my employer to withhold the contracts I signed when becoming an employee?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal for my employer to withhold the contracts I signed when becoming an employee?

I recently quit my job and signed quite a few documents due to the nature of my job, which was maid service. Part of those contracts was a contract saying I would not steal any clients, however a majority of their clients left their service once I quit as the only reason they stayed with them was because I was

good at my job and now they have contacted me seeking to employee me privately. I however do not want to breach my contract but do not have copies of said contracts, so I asked my previous employer to please provide me with the contracts I signed, they have denied me this. Is this legal? Is there any legal action I can take in order to acquire the contracts? I really do not want to breach my contracts but if they are not being forthcoming then I would like to know what I am able to do in this situation.

Asked on April 12, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

There is no legal obligation for party A to share copies of the contracts with party B to those contracts--it's more encumbent on party B to request and make sure he/she has or gets copies of them when signing.
There is no way to get them outside of a legal action. You could affirmatively sue your employer, seeking to get a court determination ("declaratory judgment") as to the exact parameters of your liability, and in the course of doing so, get copies; or take your best guess at compliance and, if sued by the employer, get copies then in the lawsuit in the course of defending yourself.

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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