What re my right regarding a non-compete agreement?

I signed a non-compete with my previous employer. It states that I cannot work for another firm like theirs for 1 year and within 50 miles of their office. I have been unemployed for 6 months and was recently offered a job with a similar company in a different role. Their lawyers have sent a cease order to me. Mind you, the contract was never signed by a manager and I am in no capacity at the new job to cause any problems for their business. What can I do?

Asked on September 6, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Kentucky


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

First of all if they prepared the contract for you to signature and it is to their benefit, then their signature is not necessary. In effect, their consent to such an agreement is implied. As for the agreement itself, whether or not your working for the other company will cause problems for your current company is immaterial. If the agreemnt states that you cannot work for a similar business, then you can't. A non-disclosure is a contract and as such it will control. That having been said, if the terms of the non-compete were to onerous, for example ran for an excessive amount of time or covered an unrestricted radius, then you could challenge its validity. However, that does not appear to be the case here. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) If they gave you the contract to sign, that they did not sign it is not relevant--their agreement to the contract is presumed from the fact that they provided it to you to sign.
2) If you agreed to work for a company like theirs, the fact that you are not in a capacity to casued problems for them is irrelevant: you contractually agreed to not work for a similar company for 1 year within that 50 mile radius. A non-compete is a contract; contracts are enforced according to their plain terms. If the plain terms prevent you from working for this new company, as they appear to, you cannot work for them.

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