Can an employer force me to sign or fire me if I refuse to sign a no compete clause?

I live in Hernando county Florida and work Monday through Friday in citrus county Florida. I clean

pools for a living and have all my life. I’m not making enough with my job and my wife is out of work 8 months pregnant. So I’ve started a small pool care company on the side. I use and buy my own

supplies and have never approached one of their customers about taking me on personallyas their

service person. I recently got screwed over by a customer I did a clean up job for. I ended up running into her during my 9-5 in the company’s work truck where I noticed she wrote down the name and number to the company I work for. I’m worried that she is going to call the company and tell them

that I have my own business. My employer asked me to sign a no-compete clause several months ago and it’s kind of slipped under the radar and they have forgotten about it period I have no intention of signing it and will refuse but I also will not steal their customers or use their products. I am wondering if I could lose my job if I refuse to sign or face any other repercussions.

Asked on June 12, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that most employment is "at will". This means that a company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit (absent some form of legally actionable discrimination). This includes terminating an employee for refusing to sign a non-compete agreement. In fact, a worker can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. That is unless they have protection against such an action under the terms of an employment contract or union agreement.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your employer may terminate you for not signing a non-competition clause or agreement. Employment in this county is "employment at will." That means (among other things) that your employer may put any terms or conditions it likes on you keeping your job and working for them--such that you will sign a non-compete. You have the right to not sign and take the chance on being fired, but if they do fire you for this, the termination will be legal.

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