How can I help a future case when trying to get out of a no compete contract

My employer has me sign a 3 year no
compete clause when I started working
where I am. The contract is for many of
our neighboring counties. It’s been over
3 years since then and things have gone
on at work that doesn’t allow me to be
comfortable working there anymore. How
difficult would it be to get out of a
contract like that and is there anything
I could do in the meantime to help my
cause?

Asked on July 12, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can't get out of a non-competition agreement which you signed, unless the employer terminates you--they can't fire you while preventing you from working elsewhere. (Technically, the reason the contract would fail in that case is that by terminating you, they take away the thing of value or "considertion"--the job--which you were receiving in exchange for your non-competition agreement.) However, 3 years is longer than the courts typically enforce--substantially longer, in fact. Generally, courts will only enforce a 6 - 12 month agreement for non-former-owners of a company, finding that period of time a reasonable balance between protecting the employer's interests while not preventing the employee from being able to work in his/her field for two long. So it is likely that you could get the length of the contract cut down in court (e.g. if they sue you to enforce it) but are very unlikely to escape it entirely.


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