When employees are hired by a company, the first day may include going through and signing off on a multitude of paperwork, including a non-compete agreement that they did not expect. In fact, many new hires often complain that they were not made aware of the requirement for a non-compete during the hiring process and when asked to sign one, they did so because they felt they had no other choice. Many who sign non competes may do so without realizing what future implications the legal document may have, only to find out later when faced with a lawsuit for taking a job with a competitor.
What was once reserved for top execs or employees in industries with guarded trade secrets, non competes have become more common in all industries with 1 in 5 U.S. workers asked to sign one. These days non competes are overused and misused with regularity with some companies extending the requirement to entry level employees. Of course, this approach back fired for Jimmy Johns who settled a lawsuit in 2016 for requiring sandwich makers and drivers to sign non competes, making it next to impossible for those employees to seek alternate employment which is way too restrictive.
Another issue that arises is when a non compete agreement is too broad. For example, asking employees to stay out of the industry for grossly extended periods of time, encompassing too large of a geographic area is just not reasonable. If you are a salesman, for example, a valid non compete would likely limit your ability to sell the same or similar product to customers in your previous territory for a period of two years – not everywhere, forever. Businesses have a right to protect themselves, but an individual has the right to earn a living.
If you are being sued for breaching a non-compete agreement, it can be very serious so it is important to seek employment law advice as soon as possible. It may be that your company did not provide the required consideration if you were asked to sign an agreement as an established employee or that the agreement is too broad in scope. There are a number of strategies to invalidate a non-compete or negotiate new terms.
If you are currently being asked to sign a non-compete as a condition for employment, or after the fact, it is in your best interests to visit with an employment law attorney to decide if the agreement is not only fair but also if it is something you want to sign in exchange for employment or promotion because of its limiting effect. Discussing the pros and cons may help you to work with your new or established employer to amend the proposed agreement to your benefit.
Contact an Experienced Quad Cities Non-Compete Lawyer
If you have questions or concerns regarding an Iowa or Illinois non-compete agreement or restrictive covenant, contact the Davenport employment law attorneys of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson PC for immediate assistance today at 563-355-6478 .