The Truth About Employment Contracts

And how you can escape the trap

Courtney Kirschbaum
Published in
8 min readApr 1, 2022
Photo: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Note: I'm not a lawyer, and no part of this article is intended as legal advice.

When I saw the phone number on my ringing phone, I thought, "Must be a misdial." It was a client from years ago, and it was late, well past dinner.

I answered.

"Hey." Immediately I heard extreme discomfort in their tone.

"What's going on?" I asked.

"I quit my soul-crushing job." a long exhale followed.

"Are you okay?"

"They're monsters. Why did I sign that?"

When you help a client land a new job, you hope everything turns out to be unicorns and rainbows, but sometimes it doesn't. Job Hunting is like dating. The truth comes out a little at a time.

Slowly, the details came back to me. This client had taken a standard job with average pay and the most restrictive, invasive employment contract I'd ever seen.

This week's Corporate Glossary term: Restrictive Clause.

Or restrictive covenant. Whatever you call it, they're on the rise.

No one tells contract horror stories because it's embarrassing.

I begged the client to negotiate down the extra-long two-year non-compete for a job where no intellectual property exchanged hands.

When I read the clause about requiring a hair follicle drug test for a standard cubicle sitter material job, I advised, "Do not agree to that."

"Why? I don't do illegal drugs."

Any drug you take could come up on this test. And you have no control over where the information goes once someone else has it.

But the one I didn't see coming was the contract demanded the candidate agree to let them scan all the electronics belonging to any legal resident of their household. That's children's iPads, laptops, and phones.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, 16% to 18% of American workers are under a non-compete clause, and 30% to…



Courtney Kirschbaum
Writer for

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