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Thread: Forced to sign a confidentiality agreement. Georgia

  1. #1
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    Default Forced to sign a confidentiality agreement. Georgia

    Is a confidentiality agreement valid if you where forced to sign it without reading it or risk losing you job on the spot?

    At 9:30 am today my employer told four other employees including myself that we must sign a confidentiality agreement. We all agreed to sign "only after reading" the ten page document. It was at this point my employer become angry threating to fire anyone who refused to sign it at that moment without getting a chance to read it first. as we all survive check to check, the threat of losing our jobs forced us to fearfully sign.

    So after getting a copy of this agreement and actually getting a chance to read it it has a non competition, ownership and title, and conflict of opportunities cluase in it. Which in turn screws my if he fires me.

    Am i correct in being pissed that he locked me into working for him only with ****ty pay or quit and not be able to work in my profession for two years after termination.

    So my question is as stated above. Is a confidentiality agreement valid if you were forced to sign it before having anytime to read it. Or risk getting fired on the spot ? I'm speaking 4-5 minutes tops with the boss screaming and cursing at everyone.

    Thank you in advance for all the advice

    Sincerely,

    ?fromGA
    Last edited by ?fromGA; 02-03-2017 at 07:47 PM.

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    I'm going to break this down a bit further for you.

    Yes, it is legal to require you to sign a confidentiality agreement unread and fire you if you do not. It is legal because there isn't a law that says it's not.

    However, that does not mean that the agreement is necessarily enforceable. Even an employer-friendly state like GA is unlikely to enforce a 2-year non-compete, particularly if it is not limited as to scope. The legality of requiring the signature, and the enforceability of the agreement itself, are unconnected.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cbg View Post
    I'm going to break this down a bit further for you.

    Yes, it is legal to require you to sign a confidentiality agreement unread and fire you if you do not. It is legal because there isn't a law that says it's not.

    However, that does not mean that the agreement is necessarily enforceable. Even an employer-friendly state like GA is unlikely to enforce a 2-year non-compete, particularly if it is not limited as to scope. The legality of requiring the signature, and the enforceability of the agreement itself, are unconnected.

    Thank you for answering my question. May i ask if it was you in my position what steps would take next ? I honestly dont know what to do.

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    I would take the agreement to a lawyer in my jurisdiction and get his advice.

    If I was not given the opportunity to take it to a lawyer, I'd call the employer's bluff and refuse to sign. If he did fire me, I'd file for unemployment immediately.

    But that's me. YMMV.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cbg View Post
    I would take the agreement to a lawyer in my jurisdiction and get his advice.

    If I was not given the opportunity to take it to a lawyer, I'd call the employer's bluff and refuse to sign. If he did fire me, I'd file for unemployment immediately.

    But that's me. YMMV.
    Thank you very much. Lawyer itis first.

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    Honestly? I'd find another job in your industry and tell him to try to sue you if he says anything about the noncompete. You state you are living paycheck to paycheck, so there's really nothing to go after if they were to drag you to court. And tell him that if he does take you to court, you will hire counsel and explain to the judge how you were made to sign it without being given time to read it under duress, and there was no real "meeting of the minds" to form this contract, and he can see how sympathetic the judge is. Good luck with that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ferretrick View Post
    Honestly? I'd find another job in your industry and tell him to try to sue you if he says anything about the noncompete. You state you are living paycheck to paycheck, so there's really nothing to go after if they were to drag you to court. And tell him that if he does take you to court, you will hire counsel and explain to the judge how you were made to sign it without being given time to read it under duress, and there was no real "meeting of the minds" to form this contract, and he can see how sympathetic the judge is. Good luck with that.
    My wifr has stated something similar to what you have said also. Right now im headed to an attorney to see what he will say. I will keep this thread updated so other can hopefully find a resolution to there issue if similar to mine. Thanks for the advice

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    Just to be clear, confidentiality agreements and non-compete agreements (NCA) are legally two VERY different things.
    • Confidentiality agreements are almost always legal, even as a condition of employment.
    • NCAs are a lot more complicated. State law is different, and the exact wording of the NCA comes into play. NCA are always a "talk to an attorney who will have to read the NCA" thing.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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    Quote Originally Posted by cbg View Post
    I'm going to break this down a bit further for you.

    Yes, it is legal to require you to sign a confidentiality agreement unread and fire you if you do not. It is legal because there isn't a law that says it's not.

    However, that does not mean that the agreement is necessarily enforceable. Even an employer-friendly state like GA is unlikely to enforce a 2-year non-compete, particularly if it is not limited as to scope. The legality of requiring the signature, and the enforceability of the agreement itself, are unconnected.
    Thank you for the reply. Its been very hectic since i last posted but here, but heres an update. I spoke to two attorneys and i have gotten nothing but mixed messages.

    The first attorney i spoke to said the confidentiality agreement is enforceable even though i was never able to read it. However the noncompete he stated was not legal as im paying taxes as a independent contracter (1099). My attorney stated that if he was ever decided to enforce the non compete he would be putting himself in a lot of trouble with the irs as he files his taxes as sole proprietor. "Legally" im not his employee even if i wear the company's uniform or am told what to do by my employer. Legally this whole thing is a mess. The founder of the company who i am very close with and who is trying to hand me the company says its not enforceable either and I currently can "f" my employer over. My employer has done many illegal things concerning this company. He has put many customers lives at risk of death with his nonchalant attitude. Does not invest into the company, and has had 4 people try to fix his books because there so out of wack. Four aspects of their contract have been violated by my boss and he refuses to let the company go. This will be a very long legal process. Hopefully this company, my coworkers and I will see a brighter day, Someday.

    The second attorney really didnt seem to know what he was talking about and seemed in it more for the money then helping me win or helping me understand this situation.

    here is a link to the picture of the non compete section.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/m00r0n4gd5...20AM.jpeg?dl=0
    Last edited by ?fromGA; 05-24-2017 at 04:06 AM.

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    The first attorney gave you very good information. If you had included in your original post that you and the other employees are being paid (probably illegally) as independent contractors, you would have gotten very different answers. (Don't mean that judgmentally or anything, just saying).

    Independent contractor vs. employee is not a choice the employer gets to make. It's a matter of law, and it's one of the most often broken by employers, either because they are ignorant of the law, don't care, pay Uncle Willie under the table, or are just plain crooks. But-among other things-when someone is legally an employee and should have all employment taxes withheld and a W-2 at the end of the year, the employer must pay matching FICA taxes (7.65% of the employee's pay) out of their pocket. If someone is paid as an independent contractor, they pay both shares themselves, 15.3% (called self-employment tax). That's the primary incentive to break the law and pay people as contractors when they should be employees.

    There's are several test criteria (about 20) as to whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor, and it's a combination of those factors, there's usually no one hard and fast yes/no criteria. However, one thing that will instantly turn a contractor into an employee is making them sign a non-compete. The whole idea of an independent contractor is that you are a separate business and could sell your services to other companies. For example, you pay a guy to take care of the yard work. He more or less sets his own hours and can go work and do a lot of other people's yards too. He's an independent contractor. Make him sign an agreement that he will only do your yard, and you just made him an employee. By doing that, he made you an employee if you weren't already, and he is breaking the law (and ripping you off 7.65% of your salary that he should be paying as FICA match versus you paying it out of your pocket as self-employment tax).

    Without more information on what your position and duties are already, I can't say if that alone made you an employee, though I suspect the answer is yes. In any case, the guy is playing fast and loose with the law and the company. My honest advice would be to find a reputable employer to work for as soon as possible. And don't worry about the noncompete.
    Last edited by ferretrick; 05-24-2017 at 06:50 AM.

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