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issues with working for 2 companies

just trying to figure out the legal implications here....

say i work full-time for company A  (an "exempt" employee) and want to continue to work there.

in addition i want to work part-time for company B.
what are the legal issues involved in doing this?
am i obligated to inform my FT employer, company A, that i am gonna take on part-time work at company B?
do i have to quit my full-time job first before accepting any other employment (part-time or full-time) ?

finally, and most important:
say i dont get paid any cash by company B, instead i get paid in equity.  is it ok to accept the the part-time offer as well as continue to work for company A.

your inputs are much appreciated!

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

IANAL but your own time is your OWN time unless stipulated.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Legally, you'll have to ask a lawyer. You may have employment laws in your area that apply (you don't say where you live, and I wouldn't know anyway). Additionally, you may have signed a contract with your employer about outside work.

Morally, there is no problem working for two companies, even if one is full time, as long as the obligations to both are being properly and adequately fulfilled.

Brad Wilson (
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

i live and work in the sf bay area...

IANAL ?  IMHO variant i guess!

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

>>IANAL ?  IMHO variant i guess!

IANAL=I Am Not A Lawyer

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Did you not sign some sort of employment agreement?  If company B is in the same business as company A, then there is a possibility of conflict of interest.  Tech employers typically require you to sign an agreement that you will not work for certain classes of employers (e.g., customers, suppliers) even after you quit (for a limited period of time).  You need to investigate this carefully.  Like other posters, IANAL.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Read everything you signed when you went to work for company "A".  If you did not agree to exclusivity you should be clear.  I would be surprised however, if somewhere in there you did not.  Almost all companies have it in the boiler plate, where you agreed to abide by the employee handbook (having never read it).  There on page 320 paragraph 11 it says you will be available to the company full time or some vague such language. 

My company prohibits it, but I know of people who just ignore it, figuring if it becomes a problem they will deal with it then.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Well, duh, just ask both companies if they have any objections.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Even if there is no explicit clause in your contract which forbids working for another company at the same time in the same industry you might still fall foul because there is an implied trust which goes along with the contract, working for another company may be a conflict of interest which can also be a breach of trust and confidentiality.

In any event, if either company doesn't know of the existence of the other in terms of you working for them you are on shaky ground.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

As others have written, read your contract.

IANAL either, but as I understand it:  In general, the company must explicitly specify exclusive control over you, and you must agree to it in writing.  If it's not there in anything you signed (or agreed to abide by, like in the "corporate policy handbook" example above), you have no obligations to the company once you walk out the door.

I would feel extremely uncomfortable working for a company that legally required me to only work for that company while I was employed there.  I don't believe that has ever been the case in the small or large companies I've worked for.

The Pedant, Brent P. Newhall
Wednesday, July 30, 2003

you are not really standing on shaky ground. just don't tell your employer about your moonlighting. there are no issues, people have been moonlighting to make extra money for ages. which brings up the real question: why bother moonlighting if you aren't making any extra money? an pure equity situation is almost always a waste of time, especially in the bay area.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

the idea would be to work (~ 6months) with a group of people developing a new product and getting some customers to use it.  if we are successful, then get some outside funding and join the company full-time.

Thursday, July 31, 2003


take it from those of us who have been through this -- the chance what you are proposing will turn into anything is almost zero, unless you are legally the owner of the endeavor.

so, if you really want to do this, don't let it interfere with your real job and don't let it be not fun. if it starts to create trouble or be not fun, do not listen to their promises. the fact is you are doing work for free and you are unlikely to get paid. so make sure you at least get some intrinsic benefit from it.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

point taken!  i do know that things are iffy etc. with the approach i'm taking, esp. the payback part.  even if nothing else comes of it, i'm hoping it'll be a learning experience to do some development outside of work.  think it'll also get me started in doing some independent development at home. 

one frustration of working for a large company (like i do) is that you never get the whole picture, just bits and pieces that you are responsible for.  its as if within development, u r not expected to question the requirements which oftentimes dont even make common sense!  once u reach the product planning stage (director and above) where u start contributing to the product features, u are no longer responsible for the actual development of the proposed features.

thats another discussion topic i guess :)

Friday, August 1, 2003

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