If I decide not to sign a non-compete clause can I be fired?

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If I decide not to sign a non-compete clause can I be fired?

I work for a small company that is growing. Recently they announced that there are new policies and procedures. Within the new policy there is a non-compete clause that states that I cannot work in the mental health field for 2 years within a 100 mile radius of any of their locations. I am considered an at-will employee. If I quit, can I receive unemployment due to working agreement drastically changing?

Asked on March 27, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) Yes, as an at-will employee, you can be fired for not signing a non-competition clause.

2) No, if you quit, it will be considered a voluntary separation from employment--you are choosing voluntarily to leave, even if it's for what you consider good reasons--and you will be ineligible for unemployment benefits.

3) While noncompetition agreements are generally enforceable, if they are challenged in court and they are too broad in either geographic scope or too long in time, the court may "blue pencil" it and reduce it to more reasonable levels. For most employees who were not also owners of a business that was sold, a one-year non-compete is about the longest a court would enforce; and depending on the employment market in your field, the number of locations your employer has, the population distribution and employment opportunities in your geographic area, etc., a 100-mile exclusion might be too broad. So it is likely the case that that you would be bound by a non-compete, but it may be reduced somewhat in effective scope if you challenged it.


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