Is it legal if my employer is threatening to withhold my last paycheck if I do not sign a non-compete?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Is it legal if my employer is threatening to withhold my last paycheck if I do not sign a non-compete?

I work for a small dog grooming shop. I put in my 2 weeks notice, worked my shifts and on my last day, right as I was about to turn in my key and leave for the last time, my boss presented me with a contract. The contract was four pages long, she said she meant to have me sign it months prior but never got around to it. It mostly stated that I would not inform her customers of where I was going to be working, or let them follow me away from her business. Exact line was,

Asked on June 26, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, an employer may NOT withhold any paycheck, including your final paycheck, to force you to sign any contact, including a non-compete: the law requires that you be paid for all work done, so if you did the work, you must be paid for it. If not, you could try contracting the department of labor to file a complaint, and/or sue the employer (e.g. in small claims court) for the money.
As to the fact that you did sign the non-compete: if you signed it, you may  be held to it. However, depending on how the contract was set up or drafted, signing only one page may or may not obligate you to it; you shuould bring the agreement to an employment law attorney to review with you, to see if you did bind yourself to the noncompete. If you did, then if you breach it, you could be liable for the employer's loss (e.g. lost business). If you told customers where you were going, then it is possible, depending on exactly what was said, that you could be held to have "solicited" them--at the least, there is a reasonable chance you could be sued by the employer (i.e. that they could state a plausible case, sufficient to file a lawsuit in good faith) and therefore force you to respond to it and defend yourself against it. Even if you are not violating the agreement in that way, the clauses you quote are fairly broad, and you could potentially be held to have violated some other part of it if you engage in competition with this employer. When you bring the contract to an attorney to see if you did not obligate yourself to it by siging next to the non-complete, you should also ask him/her about what--if you are bound under the agreement--you can and cannot do.


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 with SHA-256 Encryption