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For the sake of this question, please ignore all practical limitations, such as conflicting work times, etc. I'm more interested in the legal possibility. I know that Google has a non-compete clause for new hires, but also have heard stories of employees developing (paid!) apps during free time. I am not really familiar with how Amazon works.

So, disregarding all physical/practical impossibilites, is it even legal to work at Google and Amazon at the same time?

closed as off-topic by Justin Cave, Dawny33, Kent A., enderland Nov 18 '15 at 4:19

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    If they let you........................................ – blankip Nov 18 '15 at 3:06
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    Ignoring the practical impossibilities, a purely legal question would be off topic. From a legal standpoint, it will depend on the state and the employment contracts. I would expect that the biggest stumbling block would be dealing with intellectual property issues where both employers would have claims on your work. – Justin Cave Nov 18 '15 at 3:13
  • Do you have a source for the claim that google employees can work on side projects while retaining copyright? – CodesInChaos Nov 18 '15 at 9:26
  • Depends - how good is your attorney? – gef05 Nov 18 '15 at 19:58
  • It really is all about the contract and not the law. If you were a janitor working at Google during the day and Amazon at night, no one would care. However, if you were a software developer with a non-compete clause working on digital video algorithms for both, then you are probably violating a non-compete clause. – Keltari Nov 19 '15 at 18:36
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Legal in terms of statutes on the books in most jurisdictions? Yes.

But likely disallowed by the terms used in at least one company's employment contract (if not both). Breaching the terms of an employment contract is not necessarily "illegal", in the sense that it's not considered a criminal act and will not attract criminal penalties.

However, there may be civil consequences for breaching; ranging from termination from one or both companies, being hit with an injunction demanding you cease working at one company or the other, or in extreme cases, perhaps being held liable for damages (and legal costs!) if one company believes (and can demonstrate) that you've caused them economic harm by assisting their competitor (for instance, by taking internal technical knowledge from Google to Amazon) when in your contract you promised to do no such thing.

And note that there's room for nuance. For instance, if an employer agrees to pay you a salary of $100,000/year and instead only pays you $1000/year, that would be both a civil breach and (in most locales) a criminal act as compensation of $1000/year would run afoul of minimum wage laws. So there are cases where a breach can also be illegal.

But if we disregard practical concerns and assume that you could get an employment contract that doesn't restrict your right to work for a competing company at the same time, then yes, it would be be legally valid and not risking any civil penalties to work for both companies concurrently. But the odds of you getting such a contract are extremely low.

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