What to do if my ex-employer has a copy of a non-compete agreement which I do not remember signing and has advised me that I’m required, and they are permitted, to advise my new employer of the document.

Is this accurate and can they stop me from working for someone else? The document was apparently electronically signed.

Asked on April 7, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) Assuming you did sign the agreement, you are bound to its terms if you voluntarily left (e.g. signed or resigned), but would not usually be held to it if you were fired, laid off, terminated, etc.
a) They can only enforce the terms of the contract--they can't stop you from working more broadly than you agreed to.
2) They are allowed to advise possible or other employers of the contract. They cannot enforce it directly against other employers, since the other employers are not signatories to it, but could warn them that they will take legal action against you to prevent you from working for a competitor. 
3) If you are hired by a competitor and they take legal action to try to stop you from working for that company, they'd have to show you a copy of the contract during the course of the lawsuit, even if they have not shown it to your previously
4) If you truly think that you never actually signed such an agreement, or you were laid off, terminated etc. and so should not be bound to it anymore, then their trying to scare other people off from employing you may be a wrongful interference with your economic advantage, and you may be able to sue them for compensation for their interference with you livelihood. Speak with an attorney (e.g. an empoyment law attorney) if you want to explore this option.

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