There was once a time when non-compete contracts were only required of high-level executives and personnel who were in a position to either share company secrets or steal away customers. But in recent years, these agreements have become a common part of the employment process, and workers at all levels are being asked to sign them along with other standard forms and documents. Unfortunately, some of these agreements are crafted in a way that puts potential (or current) employees in an untenable position: the terms may prohibit them from taking another job within the same geographic region, or from working for another employer for an unreasonably long period of time. Though non-compete agreements are designed to protect employers, that does not mean that employees have no rights. Here’s what to do when presented with a non-compete contract.
The first thing you absolutely must do is read the contract before signing it. This is true of any agreement, but far too many employees are under the mistaken impression that non-competes are simply not enforceable, so it doesn’t matter whether they sign or not. This is not true. Don’t sign anything if it is clearly unreasonable. You could end up having to move in order to work again.
It is also not true that non-compete contracts can’t be negotiated. Adjustments can always be made to contracts, and if you are valuable enough to the company then they will be willing to do that. Just make sure that any terms that you negotiate are included within the contract itself rather than being agreed to orally. Terms that can typically be modified include geographic scope, length of time, and scope of competition. You also want to strike any provisions that require you to pay your employer’s attorneys’ fees in case you get into a legal spat.
Keep in mind that though your employer may ask you to sign a non-compete contract, they cannot fire you for refusing to do so. Whether you are a current employee asked to sign a contract or have been offered employment, it is always a good idea to have a non-compete agreement’s terms reviewed by an employment attorney. Our experienced lawyers can ensure that you are protected from unreasonable terms and represent you in any negotiations that are required. Contact us today to learn more.