How to fight a non-compete

My Company was sold last year, at that time I had to sign a non-compete on very
short notice. Again this year 2/23/16another non-compete had to be signed. E-mail
from Corp. office stated anyone who refused to sign would not be employed on
3/1/16 . I’ve been offered a position with a competitive company, what are my
options since both were sign under duress?
Thanks in advance for any advise.
Terrie

Asked on March 26, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

They were not signed under duress based on what you write--at least not in the eyes of the law. "Duress" is illegal pressure: threats of violence or blackmail, for example. But threatening someone with something you have the right to do--such as threatening an employee with termination, since employers may terminate employees at will--or presenting them with a bad choice, such as sign or be fired, is not legally duress. People sign all kinds of agreements--e.g. plea deals; accident settlements; divorce agreements--under pressure, and simply being under pressure is not illegal and does not invalidate the agreements. d on what you write, the law would regard you as having freely chosen to enter into the agreements because you preferred the agreement to the consequences (e.g beng fired), and so the agreements are enforceable against you. 
That said, while non-competition agreements are legal, the law does not allow the to be too excessively long or geographically broad: there are time and territory limits to what the courts will enforce. What those limits are depends on the facts, including what your level or position was (the "higher-up" you are, the more restrictions can be put on you), the area you live in (the further people will travel to get goods or services where you are, the wider the area that may be restricted), and the skills your job took (the more specialized you were, the more restrictions, on the theory that your competition would hurt more than the competition of someone in a very "fungible" job). You should bring the agreement to an employment law attorney to review with you in detail, to see if it is excessive; if it is, you may be able to get its scope or reach reduced.


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