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I have been in this industry for over 25 years, the last 10 with my current employer. This employer wants me to sign a non-compete contract now. I am considering opening my own business in the same industry. I have not signed the non-compete form. Does this employer have any legal basis to come after me if I decide to leave and start my own company?
Asked on May 12, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Texas
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 3 years ago | Contributor
Until and unless you sign a non-compete, they cannot take action against you for starting your own competing company--unless that is, you do so by taking or misappropriating proprietary or confidential business information from them to do so (i.e. you can't take and use their customer list for your own business, because that list is their property). Once you sign a noncompete, it is contractually enforceable (since that is what it is: a contract) against you, as per its plain terms.
If you refuse to sign, they can terminate you, so you need to decide if you are ready to leave and strike out on your own.