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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 16979
Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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Im an freelance Interpreter/Translator working For an agency

Customer Question

I'm an freelance Interpreter/Translator working For an agency (Masterword Srvcs) for about 13 years. and occasionally with some other agencies. on 5/9/13 I was working at MDanderson Hospital on behalf of another agency CTI (Certified Translators & Interpreters). (MDAnderson Hospital is a Masterword Srvcs Client as well)
on 5/14/13 I received a letter from an attorney John C Allen on behalf of Masterword. sating The following: Mr Hanessian.
that he is the attorney for Masterword and that I'm violating of my Independent Contractor Agreement. cause I was providing translation services to MDanderson on behalf of CTI.
And that he is reminding my obligations that I agreed in the independent contractor agreement (as follows).
Contractor shall not take and shall prevent any actions or conditions that could result in conflict with or damage to the best of interest of the company and shall not disparage the company or any or its personnel. Contactor agrees during the term of this agreement not to directly or indirectly compete, contract or otherwise deal with in any capacity or through any common related intermediaries with company's clients, or interfere with any relationships or company, or induce or encourage others to compete or interfere with company or with any person who is employee, agent, business partner or representative of company: or call on, solicit, interfere with or take away customers, clients or employees of company, without the prior written consent of company.
(Independent contractor agreement,p.3,&18) (emphasis added) (attached).
And that providing translation services to MDanderson on behalf of CTI is a direct violation of the Independent Contractor Agreement. and subject you to legal actions by Masterword. Providing translation services to any Masterword client of behalf of CTI or any other entity or individual violation of the Independent Contractor Agreement, we are prepared to initiate such proceedings if this conduct continues. You should be aware that this provisons have already been heldenforcable in action against CTI and its owners. the remedies available to Masterword include injunctive relief (restraining order) and money damages if you are found to have interfered with Masterword's relationships with its clients.
The actions that have been described to me would constitute s clear violation of the terms of you employment with masterword. We will not hesitate to initiate l3egal action against you if this conduct persist. Demand is hereby made that these activities cease immediately.
(I'm Not a MW employee) this agreement was signed by me on 3/3/07.
But in this same agreement p.3 & 19 says the following: Company acknowledges that this is a nonexclusive contract and that contractor may have contracts and customers relationships with clients and customers of other companies. This agreement should not be construed to prohibit contracts made by Contractor independently of Company Assignments.
(Masterword tell you, since you are an independent contractor and this is a part time job you can work with any other agencies
Because of this Masterword is not giving me no work (assignments) at all. Masterword stop MDanderson to have me working for them on behalf of CTI. Basically, right now I'm unemployed.
My question is what should I do? what my rights are? They are (MWS) treating me as their employee, which I'm not.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your question today, I look forward to assisting you. I bring nearly 20 years of legal experience in various disciplines.


The issue is that you have two statements here that don't actually contradict each other, though they appear to.


1. You can't compete directly against your current "employer" under the agreement (I know this is an independent contract).


2. You are allowed to enter into other agreements of clients with other companies.


In this situation, those two conflict, but that doesn't mean that the contract is not properly written. You have to abide by para. 1 to be able to do para 2. You can work for this other company, but not for clients that also work with your current company.


So, if CTI has a client that you can work for that is not also a client of masterword, you would clearly be within the provisions of this contract to work for them. The issue here is that you are directly competing against masterword in this case, by working for a client that they work with but through a different company.


Having you sign a non-compete of this nature is not treating you as an employee. It does maintain the proper separation for it to be an IC agreement. I'm sorry, I wish I could tell you differently here, but masterword's attorney appears to be correct based on the facts you've given here.

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