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I applied for a job, worked there for one day and left again. I did not sign a contract yet and I'm not getting paid for my one day of work. Now they are asking me to sign an NDA. Am I legally forced to sign this or can I say no as well?

They are obviously pushing me into signing this but I do not agree with certain terms that are in the NDA and they do not want to change these terms.

  • IANAL but asking someone to sign an NDA after the event is closing the stable door after the horse has bolted and I suspect they cannot force you to sign it. However, why would you not want to? It is a trivial matter and a courtesy to do it. – Marv Mills Dec 10 '15 at 16:42
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    If they could force you to sign it, they could force you to abide by it, which means they wouldn't need you to sign it. – DJClayworth Dec 10 '15 at 16:43
  • I do not mind signing the NDA as I do not wish to share any company information with anyone, but this NDA is set to be for a period of 10 years. It's also made up under the laws of a foreign country, while the company has an office in my own country. I don't wish to be called to court of that foreign country if anything happens in those 10 years. – Jane Dec 10 '15 at 16:44
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    Absolutely do not sign it. IANAL, but since you have no relationship with this company, you don't have a contract and you don't get paid, this is basically the company trying to get something for nothing. I'd tell them that I won't share their secrets but I'd definitely refuse to sign anything. – xxbbcc Dec 10 '15 at 16:48
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    Agreements are supposed to be mutually beneficial. There seems to be no benefit for you. If it does not benefit you to sign it, don't. If they offer money to sign it (and they should), you should have a number in mind, now, that you'll accept. – Wesley Long Dec 10 '15 at 16:51
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To answer the question clearly

Am I legally forced to sign this or can I say no as well?

No, you are never forced to sign an NDA.

This should have been done before you began work. This means that if you did not sign the NDA you would typically not be able to begin work. If they ever try to say that you "MUST" sign it you should decline and refuse. BUT always state that if you ever need to do the same or similar work for them again they are within their right to require an NDA.

So with that being said be careful of refusing the NDA as you will likely not be receiving work from that company again unless they absolutely need you again and will then require you to sign another NDA form.

Delving deeper into the subject of NDAs

Most aren't intended to be harmful or malicious to individuals. They just don't want you directly telling another company their trade secrets, which could run them out of business. That's it. There are much worse things to sign such as an NCC, which can very much stop you from going on to another job in the same industry.

  • I refused to sign a non-compete that I thought was overly limiting at one company I worked for. They had no problem with it and hired me anyway. – Dave Kanter Aug 30 '16 at 22:42
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Do not sign it. Employers use NDAs to retain intellectual property, but the time to sign is during the on-boarding process. As you no longer work there, regardless of it was a day or a year, signing this gets you nothing and can only increase your liability.

You say you disagree with terms. Absolutely decline.

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    I agree, particularly since you were not paid - they have given nothing, you should give nothing. – Jon Custer Dec 10 '15 at 18:47
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You have no reason to sign this. Any consequences of signing can only be negative for you. Nobody can force you to sign - if you saw something highly confidential and didn't sign an NDA, that's their problem, not yours. Actually, if you saw something that was supposed to be a trade secret, without signing an NDA, then because of their carelessness that trade secret is not a trade secret anymore.

There would be a simple question to ask, which is: "Why should I sign this"? Any answer along the lines "because you have to", "because we will sue you", "because it is professional", is nonsense. An answer that involves hard cash might be acceptable. They messed up by letting you come in without signing the NDA. Read the NDA carefully before you sign.

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I think whether you should sign it has several related questions:

  • Is there a possibility that you will need to work with these people in the future?
  • Would you be willing to sign it if you were staying on the job?
  • Can they explain what things you saw which they did not want shared with the outside world? (And can they justify their reasoning?)

If the answer to any of them is "no", then don't sign.


Unless there is another contract in place which we don't know about, they are not able to make you do anything anymore.

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Here's an interesting way to gauge just how serious they are about getting you to sign, and how far they're willing to push the issue:

Ask them to pay for your lawyer to review the documents (and figure out if it is in your best interests to sign them)

You're not committing to signing anything, you're simply putting the onus on them to initiate the process. If they do pay then you'll know they're pretty serious about it, but you'll also have professional advice on how to deal with the situation.

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    This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review – David K Dec 10 '15 at 20:32
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    @DavidK - it does provide an answer. Have a lawyer look at it at their expense. Sign it if the lawyer and you think it is optimal for you. – blankip Dec 10 '15 at 20:37
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    I like this answer, I have seen this tactic used in the commercial world too. But @blankip it could be worded better in order to constitute an answer to the actual question, per your comment above. – Marv Mills Dec 11 '15 at 9:02
  • Actually, it is good for both sides. If they paid for a lawyer of your choice to review the NDA, then chances are good they will get their NDA signed (with any unacceptable clauses removed). If they don't pay a lawyer, then it won't be signed, so it can't have been that important. – gnasher729 Aug 29 '16 at 15:39
  • They know as well as you do, that your lawyer will advise you that even if the NDA is harmless there's no benefit to you in signing it and so they won't advise you to do so. Only if they're making some kind of offer or tangible threat, will there be a reason to sign it. Some people make a lot of noise about "don't burn bridges, you never know who'll come around again in your future career", and of course they'd have to advise to sign to keep the other party happy. But that's all irrelevant to this case, since bridges are thoroughly incinerated before the question was even asked. – Steve Jessop Sep 1 '16 at 17:10

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