This column is written and sponsored by Alan Lescht & Associates, PC, an employment litigation firm in Washington, DC, that handles cases involving contract disputes, wage and hour issues, discrimination and retaliation, wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation and security clearances.
A non-compete agreement is a contract between an employee and an employer that limits the employee’s ability to disclose information and to work in the future. A non-compete usually prohibits an employee from competing with the employer for a certain period of time, and in a certain location, after his employment ends. This means that an employee could not work for a competing business or start his own business to compete with his former employer.
Why does my employer want me to sign a non-compete?
Employers use non-compete agreements to protect their trade secrets and valuable information. For example, a non-compete agreement could prevent an employee from going to work for a competitor and sharing her former employer’s confidential information with her new employer.
Companies also use non-competes to protect investments they make in their employees. Many employers provide or pay for employee training. A non-compete may be intended to prevent an employee from using that training to get a new job with a competitor.
Do I have to sign a non-compete?
Your employer may require you to sign a non-compete. You should carefully read any non-compete agreement and make sure you understand how it affects you. Some employers are willing to work with employees to negotiate the terms of a non-compete. Because a non-compete can significantly limit your future job prospects, you should consider having an attorney review and try to negotiate the terms of the agreement before you sign it.
What do I do if I’ve already signed a non-compete?
Make sure you’re aware of the limitations it imposes. Your employer could sue you for violating a non-compete. If the non-compete agreement is valid, a court could order you to stop working for a competing business and/or to pay damages to your former employer. However, a court could also decide that the non-compete is illegal. For example, a non-compete may be unreasonable because it restricts your ability to work for too long (e.g., for six months vs. for 10 years), or in too broad of a geographic location (e.g., within D.C. vs. within the United States).
Do you need assistance with a non-compete?
If you are about to sign a non-compete, or are dealing with the consequences of an agreement you already signed, Alan Lescht and Associates is here to help. To learn more about your rights, call us at (202) 463-6036, send us an email, or visit our website and blog. Our 13 attorneys have vast experience in all areas of employment law. Super Lawyers, Washingtonian, Newsweek, AVVO, and others have recognized us as a leading employment firm in DC.
DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information purposes and is provided only to permit you to learn about Alan Lescht and Associates, P.C., and its services. This information is subject to change, may not apply in all cases, and does not constitute legal advice. Contact an attorney to obtain legal advice about your case.