Am i bound by a non-compete agreement if I didn’t sign a contract?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Am i bound by a non-compete agreement if I didn’t sign a contract?

About a year ago, i started working with an acquaintance who started up a property maintenance company. We have had an under the table arrangement for the entire business relationship and I have signed no contracts of any kind. My position is functionally as a supervisor, as I have 2 part-time guys that I bring to jobs when I need an extra hand from time to time but I’m basically just a handyman. My acquaintance gets me the jobs, I send him a detailed weekly summary via email with my expected tally of pay and material costs, and meet him for a cash payment or personal check for the total, generally on a weekly basis. He’s what I guess you could call a broker, middle man something along those lines and takes certain dollar amount off of each service hour he bills for. I’m not experienced with doing the paperwork for this kind of contracting, so it has been convenient to have him handle that side of the job. I’ve long had a suspicion that he hasn’t been entirely honest or upfront with me about his billing practices. Recently, he stopped by to talk to the resident property manager at an apartment complex we were doing service orders for, and he was noticeably cagey about me being around for a conversation he was having with her about billing. I get along very well the manager so later on, I asked her point blank,

Asked on September 19, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) Can you, or anyone, be held to a noncompete or any other agreement you did not sign or otherwise show you were agreeing to? No--as the term "agreement" clearly indicates, you must agree in order to be bound to it.
2) Can a client (e.g. a building or its owner) sign an agreement that he, she, or it will not work with employees of their property management company? Yes--and such an agreement would be binding on them. They, not you, could be sued if they signed such an agreement but violated it. So it is possible your business's clients are prevented from hiring or working with you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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