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Non-disclosure agreements are negotiable, too

Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) have become commonplace in the business world, but, just like any contract, you should always know exactly what you're signing and why. Many employers may seek to have you sign an unnecessarily strict NDA that goes well beyond protecting their own interests into hampering your career options after you part ways. With some professional legal guidance, you can evaluate and negotiate an NDA before you sign on the dotted line.

Generally, NDAs last for the length of an employee's time with an employer, and then extend for some time after the employee leaves. In broad strokes, NDAs restrict employers from discussing certain information the employer deems confidential and pertinent to the business. The NDA generally seeks to minimize instances where an employee may work for a company long enough to learn industry secrets, then take a position with a competitor and use the proprietary information to harm the original employer or weaken their business.

While it is generally reasonable to limit the spread of company secrets, the individual terms of the contract can be very unfair to an employee. For instance, the penalty for violating an NDA may be exceptionally harsh in relation to the violation, or the amount of time that an employee must keep the information under wraps may be unreasonable and jeopardizing to the employee's career.

If you recently received an NDA, you should certainly consult with an experienced attorney before you sign it. While not all NDAs are unreasonable, proper legal counsel can help you see the full picture and protect your rights and privileges as you carefully build your career and future.

Source: The Balance, "Nondisclosure Agreement," Susan M. Heathfield, accessed May 26, 2017

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