I am an American. I had to sign an agreement to become an "Employee" of a temp agency in order to to get a job. The agreement forbids me from working for any one else except for this temp agency for 12 months after I am discharged from the current agencys assignment. The agreement also says that there is no guarantee of a new job after the current assignment ends.

Is this legal ? How can they forbid me from working ? Also, Is the ability to choose who I work for after I complete an assignment not tied to my Constatutional Liberty ?

Also, hypothetically... Could one day one company "Own" most all the jobs in America and force people to work only through them ?

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    Are you sure that this is what the agreement said? Sure it didn't just forbid you from working directly for any of the agency's clients? Feb 10, 2015 at 6:43
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    Another possibility is that it forbids you from working directly for the companies that you contracted with for a period of 12 months, unless you do it through the agency. I've had non competition agreements like that, and it's quite common.
    – Kai
    Feb 10, 2015 at 14:52
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    In every contractor position I have been in the clause has read I can not work for any client of the consulting firm I have been assigned to for 12 months after my assignment ends or 6 months from an interview generated through the consulting firm (and not be an employee of the consulting firm). My contracts have also had ways to convert to an employee at a client company, normally involves a % of my salary for the first year as a commission on helping the client fill the position although it varies from contract to contract. Feb 10, 2015 at 17:50
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    Court rulings in the US have consistently and uniformly said that no company can prevent you from working.
    – Telastyn
    Feb 10, 2015 at 21:55
  • Also if you're in California, non-competes are very rarely enforceable, unless they're actually paying you for the time you're not competing with them. Feb 10, 2015 at 22:50

2 Answers 2


This called a non compete and they are legal in a lot of places ( for example in Australia ) they can be negotiated away.

The general idea is that you don't then jump ship onto one of the temp agencies customers directly and take away their income.

The text of a non compete agreement can be whatever is put into it but for it to be enforceable then it needs to be "reasonable"

So if you are a programmer and the non compete stops you from writing code for 12 months after you leave then they may offer financial compensation


CAVEAT: NOT LEGAL ADVICE, TALK TO A REAL LAWYER This is indeed a bit unusual. Non-compete agreements are pretty commonplace but they typically restrict work for a direct competitor or some other direct conflict-of-interest situation. A blanket "can't work at all", seems out of line.

Even normal non-compete agreements are not enforceable and many US states. You need an expert of local labor law to find out and have her look at the detailed wording of the clause.

I had to sign an agreement to become an "Employee" of a temp agency in order to to get a job.

That is entirely untrue. No one forced you to sign this agreement, you did so on your own free will. I strongly recommend that you carefully read your contracts before you sign them and if you don't understand them, get legal advice. You may not get the job but if the agency is really that bad, that's probably the best choice here.

Personally I don't see any signs that evil agencies are taking over the world. I have never worked for one and no one that does or has ever worked for me does either.

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    Do you not have any loved ones ? Are you a loner ? How can you justify your answer ? If I had not taken that job, I would been evicted from my home. And my credit destroyed, my car repoed. I was forced by the system. By social requirements to remain on the grid and not live in a cave. Just as powerfull as if they had held a gun to my head. Would you not do whatever you had to to protect and provide for your loved ones ? Unle Feb 10, 2015 at 16:56
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    I'm not trying to insult you, I'm trying to help you. You are obviously in a tough spot but feeling like a victim and blaming the "system" is not super helpful. Sometimes you have to take a crummy job to pay the bills and feed the kids. But there are better jobs and better employers out there and there is a better job for you. Consider asking a separate question about "How do I find a better job" or browse similar question on this forum
    – Hilmar
    Feb 10, 2015 at 22:19
  • Thats right, other jobs, but the ones I found with the time I had were also there clients. I feel like I'm being racketed by corruption. I will never be able to work for anyone else unless I can break the cycle with the agency from hell! I did hear that there is legal Aid that might help me fight an unfair company maybe. Feb 11, 2015 at 7:49
  • @user2966456 You need legal council. Actually making a change to the company's practices is unlikely. More than likely you'll bankrupt yourself long before the court case comes to a close from legal fees. You're better off getting a lawyer seeing if the contract is enforceable, and taking whatever action you can to get on with your life. (By all means I'd love to fix the world's problems, but honestly many times fixing these problems winds up effectively being financial martyrdom that doesn't accomplish anything.) Feb 12, 2015 at 19:40

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