How broadly should a non-compete agreement be construed?

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How broadly should a non-compete agreement be construed?

I was recently unemployed and accepted a sales job working for a broadcasting company in their marketing and advertising department. I was asked to sign a non-compete, which I did. In the non-compete it outlined “among others” that I could not work for a cable company. I was recently offered a job by a cable company in the same market but not working in any way with their marketing and advertising, instead selling services to their consumers. I do not personally see a conflict, other than I would be in a sales related job working for a cable company, but the jobs, contacts, relationships are of a completely different nature. Do I have a problem?

Asked on January 11, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A non-compete is a contract. As with any other contract, the key factor is what you agreed to--the parties to a contract are held to what they agreed to do (or not do). If you agreed to not work for a cable company for a period of time in any capacity, that is enforceable: the law does not limit non-competition agreements to only competing in (i.e. working in) the same department or capacity as you previously worked in; rather, such agreements can legally prohibit you from working for a competing company entirely. 


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