I recently entered the world of contract work. I have been offered two assignments and one had me sign a non-compete agreement. I want to be very careful of the work I'm doing and not break the non-compete, the work is different enough, but I'm also concerned it may be a bit too similar. How do I navigate this? I would like to do both assignments for the sake of building my skills in consulting and also for the financial aspect of things. This is all new to me and I would love some ideas as to how to handle this.
Dear Contractually Confused,
Congratulations on being offered two assignments! But yes, please try not to get into legal trouble before you even get started in the world of contract work. Let’s break down your options.
Since you feel strongly about completing both assignments, hopefully you can clarify the terms of the non-compete agreement and be confident that you will not be in violation.
What does the agreement state? Does it limit the subject area, or list specific organizations or geographic areas in which you cannot work? Be sure to refer closely to the agreement, and consult with an employment lawyer if needed. It may turn out that it’s less limiting than you think.
If the agreement is still unclear, or you’re not able to speak with a lawyer independently, you may want to consult with your employer or someone in the legal department to get more details about the limitations of the non-compete they had you sign. Without giving too many details about your other assignment, I think you can inquire. Make it clear that your ultimate goal is to complete the assignment and to be sure you aren’t creating any issues for the organization.
Most importantly, be sure your motives are clear and trustworthy. You want to help both organizations succeed, causing no harm to either. If you get any sort of gut feeling that you may be crossing a line, listen to that and step back. I think deep down we often know the terms and conditions inherently but we don’t always trust or listen to that. So be honest with yourself and be willing to forego one or the other if it doesn’t feel good.
In the end, you may feel it is too risky to complete both assignments. If that’s the case, pick the one you like best and know that there will be many more opportunities to learn (and earn) with future assignments, and with no legal risk to you.
P.S. Now that I’ve shared my thoughts, I’m curious what the amazing community of educators reading this post has to say. Chime in, folks! What thoughts do you have for Asking for a Friend? Share your thoughts on the Global Leadership League’s LinkedIn page. Have a question for Sophia yourself, ask here!
Please note: This response is provided for informational purposes only. The information contained herein is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice or legal opinions of a licensed professional. Contact a personal attorney or licensed professional to obtain appropriate legal advice or professional counseling with respect to any particular issue or problem.