Signing Your Life Away?

Everything these days has fine print. And then below that there is the super fine print. The legal mumbo-jumbo that is only read by those who write it and then again when you are sued for failing to abide by those words. While the U.S. government’s regulation of many industries would like to make these things simpler and easier for people to understand, they still pop up in other places.

What may start as a simple one page policy can turn into a hefty document as companies discover new issues during business operations. For example, did someone once think of an idea and leave to start their own company with it? The following is an excerpt from a “Terms and Conditions of Employment” document which must be accepted before you can even start applying to one company’s jobs.

“I hereby assign to the Company all my rights, title and interest in inventions, improvements, works of authorship, ideas, data, processes, computer software programs, discoveries (hereafter called intellectual property) conceived or developed by me alone or with others during my term of employment, relating to actual or anticipated business, research or development of the Company or any projects arising from my employment.”

I understand the need for confidentiality with many companies, but doesn’t this seem like a policy written to discourage innovation or creative thinking? I would want to be extremely well compensated if every idea I had at work was suddenly the property of my at-will employer.

During the course of your career search, have you come across statements you thought a bit odd or unnecessary?

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