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

UPDATED: Feb 28, 2011

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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


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

Answered 11 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.

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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