Thanks for the link to this node. A chilling tale, and a fascinating thread. I wasn't familiar with tilly
's story in particular, but I have heard similar things. I'm pleased to see that they are apparently out of that heinous situation. Now, IINAL, either, but....
I don't believe that, in general, one's current employer can prevent one from taking a different job, unless you signed a work contract that specifically includes a non-compete clause. I seem to recall reading somewhere that those have generally been struck down by the courts on some constitutional grounds, unless they are fairly narrow. So if someone is working in our particular industry (web hosting), yes, they might be prohibited by their current terms of employment from accepting a job with us. Otherwise it's probably ok.
Regarding IP and employer ownership, I've never accepted a job where "everything you write is ours" was part of the actual contract. I did take a job once where they handed me a form to sign on my first day that said something along those lines, but I never signed it or returned it, and they never asked. I was prepared to argue that my contract didn't require me to sign everything they gave me, nor was signing away rights to my IP part of the duties laid out, so I had no reason to comply. Whether this argument would have flown at all is an utter mystery to me.
Even if a job applicant has signed such an agreement, it would certainly (remember: IINAL) be unenforcable if it tried to maintain such an agreement as holding after the employment contract was terminated. So ok, the applicant's current employer might hold the rights to the "work" the client did here during the interview, i.e., the results of their programming test. If they asked us for it, I'm certain we'd give it to them.
Oh, needless to say, my current employer has placed no such restriction on any employees. Many people, including our CTO, do independent consulting and/or open source development, in addition to their work here.
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