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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Everyone,

I am just getting into the business and I have a potential problem.

I currently work for a company that is in the business of making copies (won't say who exactly, but they are nationally known as the famous copy store).

anyway, my boss found out that i am starting a t-shirt company and he said that i need to stop because it is a "Conflict of Interest."

The copy company i work for does make custom t-shirts for people, but i am not selling custom shirts... i am selling specific designs that i have created outside of work.

he's not a lawyer, and neither am i, but i believe that there would only be a conflict of interest if i were selling custom t-shirts. i used the analogy that it's like saying that i wouldn't be able to have another part-time job at the Gap, because they sell shirts to... but obviously Gap is not a competitor with this famous copy shop.

i emailed one of the human resource people in the company and he said there MIGHT be a conflict of interest, but due to the fact that i am not customizing shirts, that it's a grey area.

i told my boss that i will not produce any shirts at the store, or take customers away. i have all my own equipment. the copy shop uses transfers made by Xerox and fed through a laser printer. I will be using plastisol transfers... so even the product is not the same.

i'm not sure if my boss is out to get me or anything, but i feel like he's just getting on my case for no good reason.

i'm probably going to quit that copy shop anyway, because i don't like the way they treat their employees, but until i find another job, or the t shirt business takes off, i need to get a pay check from them.

i would really appreciate any help/advise out there. it seems to me that there are a lot of knowledgable people here in the forums.

let me know what you think, or who i can ask about this.

Thanks!

Andrew
 

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Hi Andrew. I was once dragged into an office at work many years ago, where it was claimed my business was a 'conflict of interests'. This was even though it had nothing even remotely connected to what I was doing in my job then.

A lot of businesses think you should beholding to them. Some bosses get jealous that employees show more initiative than them. Some people don't like employing individuals with their own free minds. Whatever their reason, it should act as motivation for you to work even harder on your own enterprise.

Good luck with it all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Will... I appreciate the advise.

yep, i've had jealous bosses before, and i believe i still do. what's funny is that my boss told me to "choose between the two jobs." of course, i haven't said anything yet, because i will be taking the issue as high as it needs to go up the corporate ladder, because i don't believe he is qualified to make any accusations.....

but i would definitely choose my small-just-started-haven't-even-sold-a-shirt-yet business over this place.
 

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We have a saying in Europe Andrew. "Give someone a clipboard and tomorrow they'll be a dictator!"

I started my own business to get away from office politics, petty dictators, pointless procedures and have never looked back. In the short term, I'd certainly find alternative employment if you get subjected to petty bullying like that.

Focus on the future, not the idiots you have to endure in the short term.
 

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If I was your boss,I would fire you on the spot as you could always be a potential competitor with the knowhow that you gained from the company.

However If I was you, I would never allow the company to find out what my future plans are, just prepare everything, then when the time comes just quit.
 

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pretend to have given it all up first problem was allowing him to find out now you gotta cover up. do so and in the mean time take his customers copy his stuff steal his suppliers and if you can sabotage his company if possible till the day he fires you or you decide to quit! thats business
 

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If you work for the "MacDonalds" of the copy business you should have nothing to worry about. If they do not have any images of their own and are just providing a "printing service" and you are designing your own shirts as an artist and selling them no worries. If they fire you then they may have to prove you we negligent in your work as cause for termination but they cannot use a conflict of interest reason. However if they do provide customers with art to put on shirts you are risking your job by continuing your outside activity.
 

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Andrew, i think you have been given some sound advice. I think your boss is a by the book Company person( nothing wrong with that). I think you should just not talk about your out of work life while working. This will eliviate the issue. If your business takes off you will not need the job anymore. I don't see a conflict issue,but I tend to take the attitude that I don't car what others do. I just don't want them bothering me. .... JB
 

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Let them fire you and file for unemployment. If the company says it was for cause, explain it is just a hobby (don't get a license till you make more than pocket money from it) and you were doing it for friends and family and the jerk (boss) was just jealous and looking to get rid of an employee that could potentially take his job.
 

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Is it a conflict of interest? Probably not (well, except in that running any business tends to prevent people from giving 100% to their day job). Could it get you fired anyway? Probably. And I doubt you'd have any recourse. Just because it isn't really a conflict of interest, doesn't mean it can't look sufficiently like one on paper if it needs to.
 

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Andrew, you should talk to an employment lawyer before you get fired. Obviously we don't have all the details but it seems like if they did fire you for this it would be wrongful termination. It's very possible your boss is just using this as an excuse to get rid of you.

Also, start keeping records of every conversation, memo, email, etc. that you've received from them regarding this matter.
 

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Keep in mind most people don't want you to be successful. They want you to be at their level or below them. I think you should probably get another job and start fresh. That boss will always make life hard for you.. Your a threat to him and his numbers. Read a book called "48 Laws of Power"
 

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Meh, your boss is being silly :( I was lucky in that I worked at a copy store and sold t-shirts as well. I had them delivered to my work so I could take them home with me. My boss thought it was the best thing in the world.....maybe it was because I brought him in free t-shirts all the time for his daughter...

But it might be easier to find a new job and tell them during the interview process that you have a side hobby, and that's your creative outlet; then they won't wonder why you're not following your dream full time and worry about you leaving. Worked for me several times :)
 

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My partner and I worked at the same place together for years before we left and started our own business. Our employer was not thrilled but she also didn't freak out and try to stop us either (and we would be a competitor of hers). You have to do what you have to do and don't let anybody tell you different! I believe as an employee you owe it your employer the best work you can do while you are on his or her time and to always have a good work ethic, but what you do on your own time is your business. We decided not to try to take customers away from our old workplace for a number of reasons, the biggest one being karma and to always try to honor the place that helped us put food on the table for many years. After 5 years sweating away in our garage, we were able to finally turned around and buy our former workplace and everything so far is going great though it is much different being the bosses! Good luck to you and get as much feed back from people as you can but remember you have to set your own sails!
 

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A previous boss of mine had given me this response to my stating that I had a part-time job: "We are paying you for your full effort and time and feel we are compensating you fairly for this." So, in his thinking, I should be available for overtime and weekends if needed.

For many businesses, any outside employment is a potential conflict of interest. In the real world, many companies do not care if the businesses do not compete. But you really have to be careful not to solicit from your current job. If I had an employee working in my shop that did shirts on the side (and I knew about it), I would most likely have to make a decision as to whether I would tolerate the potential for that employee taking away business from me.
 

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I could not even imagine punching a clock for anybody ever agian- ever! It's been 7 years and I never- well almost never looked back! You'll make more in half a day than you could in a week working for somebody else. It's a leap of faith to be totally on your own, but the rewards are priceless! QUIT! TODAY!
 

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definitely some good advise that all of you are giving. keep it coming! i'll probably be contacting a lawyer.
Honestly, unless you are in a protected class and have evidence you are being discriminated against, hiring a lawyer is a waste of money. Check your paperwork, if you are an at-will employee it means they can fire you at any time, for any reason, or for no reason. I would just tell your boss whatever he wants to hear and then not talk about it anymore while at work.
 

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With rising prices everywhere, one question I have is how is the local unemployment rate by you? If your job market is good, and you can make a jump to another job, I'd say go.

Once you are on the radar like this, it can likely come up again. If someone wants to make things difficult for you, they can and they don't to be in the right do so, or justified, or anything else. That's the way people can be. As the employee, you're along for the ride.

It sounds like you think you can get another job, and you don't respect this company's treatment of their other employees either, so if you have the luxury of leaving, it's probably a good idea.

Start fresh, and with a company you hopefully can feel good about. I don't like hiding things, I'm also not one for lying, so if it were me in your shoes, I'd have a tough time saying to them "I'm not doing it anymore", and living with that for any amount of time. I hate having to watch what I say, to who, to where, whoopsy, did I just say that?? Oh heck with that. You know what I am saying??

If you can find a new job, and they can know what you do, and they are alright with you designing tees, and you can chat on your lunch about your passion, and where your shirts to the company picnic, etc... hey - that's the a-ok situation I'd be looking for. Good luck to you, I hate office or even personal politics... so I hope this turns out okay for you, and this dilemma is behind you soon. Best wishes and....
 
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