What can I do if I’ve been terminated and my employer refuses to pay me my final paycheck until I sign a non-compete?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What can I do if I’ve been terminated and my employer refuses to pay me my final paycheck until I sign a non-compete?

I worked for a shark diving boat. My boss snooped through my phone and read texts between me and a friend saying that I wanted to start my own shark diving business, so he fired me. He now refuses to pay me the $1340 that I already worked for unless I sign a non-compete clause. It basically stated that I won’t be able to work work another shark diving business for 2 years. He pays me under the table, so besides the records that I keep of how much he owes me, that is it. Will a non-compete clause like this hold up due to the fact that I’m being blackmailed to sign it and I’m no longer his employee?

Asked on November 23, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If you sign the clause, it will hold up: competent adults are presumed to voluntarily sign such agreements and are held to the terms of what they agreed to. You don't have to sign: if he won't pay you voluntarily, which he is obligated to do--i.e. you must be paid for all work done, period, and he can't put conditions on you being paid--you can sue him for the money. For the amount at stake, suing in small claims court, acting as your own attorney ("pro se") to save legal fees is a very good option. Sue him, don't sign; if you sign, you won't be able to compete.

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