Can an employer make you sign a document that prevents you from working for another company after youterminate your employment?

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Can an employer make you sign a document that prevents you from working for another company after youterminate your employment?

I work for a church. They are demanding to have control over what church employment I accept after I quit or and terminated from them. The restrictioncovers a 75 mile radius. I work in Richmond and live in San Francisco. There are several churches in San Francisco who want to hire me. But I am to not accept employment there after I leave the Richmond church. Can they do that?

Asked on January 9, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

What you are being asked to sign is a "non-compete" agreement.  And in CA, such agreements are a violation of state law.  Yet many employers are unaware of this fact since non-compete agreements are legal in virtually every other state. However, there are 2 exceptions to this general rule, but neither would seem to apply to your case.  They are: (1) non-compete agreements are enforceable for partnerships; and (2) non-compete agreements are enforceable when a person is selling their ownership interest in a company.

Note:  A company can prevent the use of its trade secrets, but it cannot prevent fair competition.


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