will non compete be valid?

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will non compete be valid?

I worked for a company for 7 years as a
graphic artist in Kansas. I have
received raises every year and bonus
increases as well. I was terminated w
no explanation. My husband would like
to start his own business in same
field….so he wants to start a
competitor site. We want to know if we
can since i signed a non compete even
tho he has no part of my previous
employer. They also changed company
names after I signed it. Please let me
know if non compete will be valid?
thanks

Asked on June 3, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Your non-compete does not bind your husband: a non-compete is a contract, and contracts only bind those who sign them. IF the non-compete were enforceable against you (see below) you could not work for him in competition to the old company, but he could certainly start his own competiting business.
While you always need to check the exact terms of the non-compete (like you would for any contract), since the precise terms control what the non-compete does and does not allow, as a general matter, if you are terminated by your employer, especially not "for cause" (i.e. not for insubordination, violating company policies, theft of company money, services, goods, etc.), you are no longer bound by the non-compete. First, the "consideration" for the non-compete that makes it enforceable is being employed; if terminated, you no longer receive that consideration or thing of value. Secondly, as a matter of public policy and basic equity, courts don't want employers to be able to fire people then prevent them from supporting themselves and their families; non-competes generally only apply when you resign/quit voluntarily.
A name change would not render an agreement invalid, but a change in corporate entity (e.g. if the name change occured because your company was bought by another, and the prior LLC or corporation was not continued) might.


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