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Employment with customers after termination/resignation Wisconsin Wisconsin

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  • Employment with customers after termination/resignation Wisconsin Wisconsin

    I am leaving my current employer and need to decide whether to let them fire me or resign. I've done my best to be a good employee (lots of unpaid overtime, volunteering for company events and duties outside my job role) but the job is not a good fit. I have signed an agreement that I would not work for a customer of the company or a consultant who places temporary employees at customers for one year after termination. The agreement stipulates that it is the same whether I am terminated by my side or the company's. (I would be willing to stay on in another capacity that better suited my skill set, but that hasn't been discussed.)

    I am hoping to get hired by a contracting firm (one that does not have a contract with my employer not to compete) and let them place me in a temporary role at a customer site, but I want to make sure that I don't place any new employer or their customer at legal risk.

    It seems to me that if I am still willing to work for my employer and was told by them that I don't meet their standards that I should be free to do whatever I can to earn a living. I am not going to the company's customers and soliciting them, I am searching through posted job announcements. I am not harming the company's reputation by maligning them or stealing away business (indeed, I would be working to promote the use of the company's products and services).

    My questions:

    Is the agreement I signed really binding if my employer doesn't suffer any real harm? (I am not in any key position.)

    Does it matter if I am fired or resign on my own? (If I resign they'll pay out unused vacation and 2 weeks' severance and not contest unemployment benefits. If they fire me, I lose the vacation and severance - more than a month's salary.)

    I am not trying to cheat my employer but I do need a job and there are lots of prospects if this contract clause is not binding.

    Thanks for any advice!

  • #2
    You probably need to show the agreement to a labor atty to be on the safe side. From what I understand, typically non-competes that are too broad are not enforceable.

    As far as quitting vs getting fired. Why do you think you will be fired? If you are a good employee, why not just stay until you find another job (after you get the agreement issue settled?). If you quit it will be unlikely to receive UI even if the company doesnt contest it....unless you are willing to lie to UI and say you were fired (and the company sticks to its word and doesnt contest). Personally I think it would show a lack of character, but you could use up your vacation and then quit rather than returning to work. Like I said, you probably will not get UI in that situation.... and it is certainly not in the best interest of the company. It would burn bridges you may need later.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by sevenfortythree View Post
      You probably need to show the agreement to a labor atty to be on the safe side. From what I understand, typically non-competes that are too broad are not enforceable.

      As far as quitting vs getting fired. Why do you think you will be fired? If you are a good employee, why not just stay until you find another job (after you get the agreement issue settled?). If you quit it will be unlikely to receive UI even if the company doesnt contest it....unless you are willing to lie to UI and say you were fired (and the company sticks to its word and doesnt contest). Personally I think it would show a lack of character, but you could use up your vacation and then quit rather than returning to work. Like I said, you probably will not get UI in that situation.... and it is certainly not in the best interest of the company. It would burn bridges you may need later.
      Thanks! I don't know what a lawyer costs to answer such a question or where I could find one at short notice. I don't know whether the agreement is too broad. According to that, I can't work for any customer (current or prospective) or affiliated consulting firm from a specific list for a year. For me, that means that if I work for an unaffiliated consulting firm at a current customer nobody should get in trouble. Does that seem reasonable?

      My situation is that I am on probation but my employer is willing to let me quit and claim unemployment (and not contest it). This is their policy and I'm sure they will stick to it. I've been busting tail here for a couple of years to do my best in the job (my efforts are recognized) but there's no time to learn everything I need to do my job better and still cope with the everyday tasks. I have until EOD tomorrow to decide whether to stay on probation for two weeks and then get fired if I haven't 'improved' or to give two weeks' notice and get severance, vacation pay and eventually unemployment insurance. If I get fired I lose the severance and vacation.

      Either way, I'm leaving, so looking while still employed is not going to last long. (Also one of the reasons I'm leaving is that I'm working upwards of 60 hours a week and don't have time or energy to do a lot of job hunting with I'm off work.)

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      • #4
        Your company does not decide if you are eligible for unemployment insurance or not; the state does. Just because your company will not contest the UI claim; does not mean that you will be found eligible for UI benefits. When you file, you will have to give a reason why you no longer work for the company. You will either have to lie and tell UI you were fired; or tell the truth and say you quit (in which case you will prob not get anything from unemployment).

        I would strongly advise to not quit your job if you think you may need to file for unemployment.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by sevenfortythree View Post
          Your company does not decide if you are eligible for unemployment insurance or not; the state does. Just because your company will not contest the UI claim; does not mean that you will be found eligible for UI benefits. When you file, you will have to give a reason why you no longer work for the company. You will either have to lie and tell UI you were fired; or tell the truth and say you quit (in which case you will prob not get anything from unemployment).

          I would strongly advise to not quit your job if you think you may need to file for unemployment.

          Thanks, I appreciate your help with this!!

          Comment


          • #6
            I have signed an agreement that I would not work for a customer of the company or a consultant who places temporary employees at customers for one year after termination.

            Such agreements are quite commonplace and I've seen lots of them, especially when I've hired IT consultants. I'm in Wisconsin and to the best of my knowledge, they are enforceable as they are not unduly restrictive. They only prohibit you from working for a client of your current employer and only for 12 months.

            It seems to me that if I am still willing to work for my employer and was told by them that I don't meet their standards that I should be free to do whatever I can to earn a living.

            But that's not what you agreed to when you accepted employment with your current employer.

            Is the agreement I signed really binding if my employer doesn't suffer any real harm?

            Yes.

            Does it matter if I am fired or resign on my own?

            Yes.

            BTW, it's also entirely possible that your employer's client companies have also agreed not to hire any of their employees for 12 months after they leave employment. These terms were routinely part of the contracts I've signed when employing consultants. It's to prevent client companies from "raiding" the consult company's employees and to prevent the consultants from "jumping ship" to work for client companies.

            If you want an expert legal opinion, you're going to have to pay an attorney to review the agreement you signed and advise you on relevant case law in Wisconsin.

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