If I am going from service to sales, will a non-compete hold up?

I worked for a company and was off on FML; when it ran out they let me go 5 months ago. I am now looking for a job and possibly found one but my ex-employer said if I take it they will sue me. By way of background – I met with the my 2 bosses and they let me know that they were going to get a regional service manager to oversee all 3 cities (I was over 2) and I was told by both of them I would still have a job here because I was an asset to the company. I became ill and after my FML I was let go.

Asked on November 4, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

For a more definitive answer, you need to speak with an employment law attorney who can review the terms of your non-competition agreement with you. As a general rule, non-competition agreements apply to the type of work or career you had when you signed them--that is, if you signed an agreement when in a service capacity, that should not prevent you from taking a job in sales, since you are not competing in the capacity you had signed the agreement. There are exceptions, though--if the jobs involve similar knowledge or contacts, despite being in ostensibly different areas; or if you were a high-level person, greater latitude is usually given to interpreting and enforcing non-competition agreements (the notion is higher-level staff knows more, can do more damage by competing, and was better able to negotiate the agreement or otherwise protect themselves). Again, you need an attorney to review this specific agreement and situation with you. Good luck.

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