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Beware broad nondisclosure agreements

If you work in the business sector, then you understand that nondisclosure agreements (NDA's) are more and more commonly a part of normal operations when a new hire joins a company. However, just because you get handed a nondisclosure agreement does not mean that you have to sign it, or even that it is legally sound. Often, companies hand prospective employees NDA's that feature wildly unreasonable terms and expect them to come back signed with no issues. Before you sign that NDA, consider taking it to a legal professional to assess its terms and see if you really want to agree to it.

For instance, an employer may ask you to sign an NDA that lasts for much longer than is reasonable to require. Similarly, an NDA may state that you must remain tight-lipped about information that is not necessarily confidential. The fact of the matter is that many businesses hand out NDA's written in very broad terms because they simply want to cover their liabilities from some unanticipated problem. However, very broad terms can have issues standing up to scrutiny in court.

An appropriate NDA deals in terms that make sense for the scope of the information involved and the ways it may be used. NDA's restrict an individual from dispersing confidential information, but also generally bars an individual from using that information for his or her own gain.

Part of remaining competitive in the business world is retaining your rights as an individual. Before you sign away some freedoms you may wish you hadn't, seek out professional legal counsel that can review an NDA and determine whether or not you should actually sign it, or suggest some modifications that might make it more agreeable. Don't assume that an employer is looking out for your best interests in the documents it asks you to sign. You must take action to protect your own rights.

Source: Forbes, "The Key Elements Of Non-Disclosure Agreements," Richard Harroch, accessed Sep. 29, 2017

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