How can I get around a non-compete clause?

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How can I get around a non-compete clause?

My company went through a re-organization and was part of RIF for a company that I’ve worked for 20 years. I signed their separation andrelease agreement to receive my severance thinking I could find a job that wouldn’t compete in the same field. No luck. Now have an opportunity to work for a competitor. What are my rights in WI to work for this company if I’ve already signed this agreement which states non-solicitation and non-interference (non-compete).

Asked on August 3, 2011 Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Non-solicitation and non-competition agreements are enforceable; if you signed one in exchange for receiving severance, you are bound by it.

What might help you is this: while the agreements are enforceable, they are only enforceable within limits: courts will not allow them to deny someone all opportunity to work. So if the geographic scope of the agreement is too broad for your level and industry, or the time period covered by it is too long, or the types of positions covered by it too broad, it may be that a court would cut the agreement down to an enforceable level. You should bring the agreement with you to an employment attorney, who can review it and advise you as to your rights and recourse. Good luck.


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