I was doing a temporary job through the staffing agency. The company I worked for wants to hire me permanently but they told me not to tell the agency. I have a contract with the agency that says that I cannot accept any work from the Company without permission from the agency.
It is rare for this to happen. However, if the employer is serious about this, they would provide an indemnification agreement in case the agency sues. I get many calls regarding this type of thing and will say companies that use staffing agencies almost never hire people on without making an agreement with the staffing agency that permits it. Be very weary of a direct hire with not payout from the employer to the agency, no mutual agreement between the employer and agency, or no idemnification from the employer to defend and pay for you if the agency sues.
Both you and the employer can be sued to enjoin you from taking the position and/or seek8ng payment of the fee that should have been paid.
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What will happen depends on what you signed. You would need to show it to an attorney to have your question answered.
You should have an attorney review the agreement with the agency in order to make sure you are protected and to figure out how to insure you won't have exposure on this.
This answer does not constitute formal legal advice and you should contact this or another attorney to confirm or research further any statements made in this answer. Any statements of fact or law I have made in this answer pertain solely to New York State and Federal law and should not be relied upon in any way in any other jurisdiction.
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