How do I navigate a non-compete clause for a severance agreement whenI want to open a website relating to my now previous employer’s business?

If I accept a severance agreement, which amounts to three months salary, I am asked to agree to a non-compete clause for a year. This would essentially mean I could not take ownership of a website to offer consumer education about the consumer retail services that my, now ex-company offers? Parts of the website would be considered contrary to the services my ex-company offers – the vast majority of the public, unequivocally, agree with my position.

Asked on December 8, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A non-compete like you describe, offered in exchange for severance, is enforceable. Therefore, if you violate or breach its terms, you may be sued. However, while the agreement is enforceable, you *only* have to do what it says--no more. So, for example, as a general matter, not competing with an employer would not include not providing information which is contrary to what the employer maintains or claims--competition is being in the same business or taking customers/market share, not publically disagreeing with the employer's position, stance, or services.

But that is as general matter. Each agreement is enforced as to its own specific terms. If you have any question about what the agreement says or what would be allowed by it, have an attorney review it with you before deciding whether to sign.


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