Can I be fired for not sighing an agreement to compete?

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Can I be fired for not sighing an agreement to compete?

I have been working for a company for 1 year. With 4 years previous experience. Now they gave me a paper to sign. It is not to compete for 3 years or 50 mile radius. It is seasonal landscaping. So I get unemployment now in winter. If I do not sign this, can they fire me or stop my unemployment? Because in this economy trying to raise a family I cannot limit my options.

Asked on February 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule non-competes (non-competition agreements) are legal.  Accordingly, your employer may terminate your employment if you don't sign one if asked.  The fact is that non-compete agreements have been consistently upheld by the courts to be valid.  That having been said, an agreement that is overly broad will not legally be allowed to be enforced. For example, restricting an employee from working for competitors within a 500 mile radius, or making it effective for 10 years.  In your situation a 3 year agreement with a 50 mile radious may or may not be considered to be overly broad.  However, duration and term are subject to the specific facts of each case.  What you need to do now, is to consult directly with an employment law attorney as to your rights. 

Note:  If the terms of your employment otherwise prohibit a non-compete or dictate duration/term then you may have some protection.  Check your employment contract if you have one or check with your union, if applicable.  Also, if you think that discrimination is a play you may have a claim.


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