How long is non-compete clause legal?

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How long is non-compete clause legal?

I was ‘told’ I had to sign a non-compete clause when I started working for a company 16 years ago. I don’t remember if there was a length of time on it, I was recently laid-off from the company-not given a real reason and even received a letter of recommendation from the owner. When I signed the form I was hired as a customer service representative but worked my way through several different positions ex. product development, buyer, website marketing manager. I live in Michigan-is the non-complete form still in effect?

Asked on July 15, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A non-compete does not expire and remains valid and enforceable no matter how long you worked at the employer or how many positions you held there: one signed 16 years ago, for example is as enforceable as one signed 16 days ago. However, as a general matter, a non-compete is only enforceable if you voluntarily leave employment (quit or resign), not if you were fired or laid off: that's because the company gives you employment in exchange for your promise to not compete, so if you are fired or laid off, you are no longer receiving the thing you agreed to not compete in exchange for. Therefore, typically, you are no longer held to a noncompete if fired or laid off, unless you received something of value other than employment (like stock options or a bonus) specifically in exchange for signing the noncompete.


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