There comes a point in time when you are ready to move on from your job and seek greener pastures. The problem is that many companies make new employees sign a non-compete contract because they don’t want the competition profiting off of their investment in you.
This may make you think that you have to stay on and just deal with your current job. Things aren’t so simple as that. In fact, there are some ways to still be able to move on even with you having signed the contract. In this article, we will go over several of the ways that this can be done.
Did your employer breach a contract?
Your employer may threaten you with action being taken if you quit and go to the competition. However, if you are quitting because they already breached a contract that you had with them then they can’t do anything about you quitting. The contract is already voided once they are the instigators in breaching it, to begin with.
Once the employer fails to meet an obligation laid out in the contract, then the employee is under no obligation to honor any of the other provisions including going to work for the competition.
What is your position?
Very often, a company has a lot of provisions in a contract that new employees are asked to sign that don’t really pertain to them. The non-compete contract shouldn’t be enforced on employees who are not bringing any assets to the competition that would put them at a disadvantage.
For instance, it doesn’t make any sense for a company to pursue damages if a front desk receptionist or clerk from a company were to leave and work for the competition. Those employees are unlikely to bring any trade secrets with them or threaten to poach clients from their current company.
If this sounds like your position then you probably won’t face any problems if you choose to leave. If the company does decide to pursue things then a good employment lawyer would take this case and win.
The agreement period is too long
It’s understandable that a company wouldn’t want a valuable employee to work for the competition. There is a limit to how long you shouldn’t be able to do so. There will come a time when a non-compete contract is a way to retaliate for leaving rather than to prevent the competition from benefiting.
In most cases, a two year limit is reasonable. In some exceptional cases, even three years may be deemed appropriate such as if you were to sell a business and the new owner requests three years.
However, if the contract is for longer than that it is likely unenforceable. Most judges would side with the employee in this case. The best bet is to not sign a long or unenforceable non-compete contract. You should always assume that it can be enforced and ask for different terms that are more reasonable.