If I signed a non-compete agreement on the 6th but don’t start work until the 24th, when does it take effect?

Is it currently enforceable. I received an offer from a competitor and want to accept.

Asked on August 7, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Iowa

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It would be effective now, since the consideration for the agreement is the promise of employment, IF you knew when you signed the non-compete that you would start work 18 days later; in that case, the employer is not in breach of its obligations at this time, because it has not fired you or denied you a start date, and you signed in knowledge of the delay in starting (and so in agreement with). If you signed on the 6th believing you would start that day, but they then told you that you would not start yet, the employer's delayng your start could be considered a breach of their obligations--you're not able to work or be paid when you were supposed to--in which case, you may be able to treat the agreement as terminated due to their breach. Note that while you have a good argument that in this case that the agreement is terminated, it's not open-and-shut, and if the employer attempts to enforce the agreement against you, while you will likely prevail, you are not guaranteed to win: a judge could potentially hold that the delay in start date is not a material, or important, enough breach to terminate the agreement.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It would be effective now, since the consideration for the agreement is the promise of employment, IF you knew when you signed the non-compete that you would start work 18 days later; in that case, the employer is not in breach of its obligations at this time, because it has not fired you or denied you a start date, and you signed in knowledge of the delay in starting (and so in agreement with). If you signed on the 6th believing you would start that day, but they then told you that you would not start yet, the employer's delayng your start could be considered a breach of their obligations--you're not able to work or be paid when you were supposed to--in which case, you may be able to treat the agreement as terminated due to their breach. Note that while you have a good argument that in this case that the agreement is terminated, it's not open-and-shut, and if the employer attempts to enforce the agreement against you, while you will likely prevail, you are not guaranteed to win: a judge could potentially hold that the delay in start date is not a material, or important, enough breach to terminate the agreement.


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