If 3 years ago I signed a non-compete agreement as a salesman but have since been moved into management with different duties, does the agreement carry over to this new position?

About 10 months ago, I was informed the company was changing their business strategy and eliminating direct salesman in my state. I was being moved into a management position and would now have a completely different role. My compensation was also changed and now I make less than I did when in sales and involves about 40% of overnight travel. I did not travel at all in sales. I was not given any documentation except a new job description. I would like to look for a new in sales but need to know if my original non-compete carries over to the management position since the company completely changed my responsibilities and pay structure?

Asked on August 1, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Since you are now in a management position with completely different duties than when you were in sales, the non-competitive agreement should no longer be in effect.  In addition, a non-competitive agreement has to be limited in time, scope, and proximity.  It cannot be for an indefinite duration of time.  If there isn't any time limit stated in the non-competitive agreement, that would be an issue for you to raise if anyone claims you are in violation of it by obtaining a new sales job three years after signing the agreement.  The non-competitive agreement also has to be limited in geographic proximity and cannot have an unlimited area in which you cannot compete.  For example, if it said 5 or 10 miles from your office location, that may be acceptable, but not 100 miles or omission of proximity altogether.

A court can limit the scope, proximity, and duration of a non-competitive agreement.

Since the position of direct salesman has been eliminated in your state, it would not serve any purpose for the company to try to enforce a non-competitive agreement for a salesman in your state. 

Therefore, the non-competitive agreement should no longer be applicable.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It depends on the terms of the non-competition agreement. If it simply states that you shall not compete with your employer without being more specific than that, it would still  be enforceable; in that instance, you would have agreed to not compete in any capacity. However, it is states that you will not compete in sales, as a salesman, etc. then it would no longer be relevant so long as you do not work as a salesman for a competitor...it may technically still be in force, but if your inability to compete was limited to competing as a salesman, then if you don't compete in that capacity, you are not violating the agreement.

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