Can an employer ban you fromworking a competitor?

Get Legal Help Today

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can an employer ban you fromworking a competitor?

If you sign a paper stating that you cannot work at another cell phone carrier for a year after your employment with the current cellphone company that you work for, and then you get a job at a competitor, what kind of legal action can be taken against you? Is it possible they wouldn’t find out if you don’t use them as a reference?

Asked on March 30, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Connecticut

Answers:

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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

What you are referring to here is what is known as a "non-compete" agreement.  And they are legal.  Non-compete agreements ensure that upon termination of employment, a former employee will not engage in activities that place them in direct competition with their former employer.  While the exact terms of these agreements may vary, they are subject to state laws regarding employment.  Typically, a non-compate is an effective means to ensure that former employees do not make use of proprietary information to lure customers away from their former employer.  However, they do specify a specific timeframe that the former employee is expected to refrain from engaging in competitive employment. Generally, the timeframe ranges from 1 or 2 years to up to 5 years, depending on the circumstances and specific jurisdiction.

As to whether or not your former employer will find out of your new employment with one of its competitors, it's hard to speculate.  However, if it does find out the penalties for your breach of the agreement should be spelled out in the non-compete itself. 

At this point, you should at the very least speak with an employment law attorney and see what your options are.  Sometimes, if a non-compete is overly broad or in some other way legally defective, it will be unenforceable.  Again, consulting directly with a lawyer in your area is your best bet.


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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption