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Non-Compete Agreement Missouri

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  • Non-Compete Agreement Missouri

    I have been working for a small company for almost a year now and just Monday they want me to sign a non-solicitation & non-compete agreement by Friday. They are saying if I don't sign they will fire me. Can they do this? Also the agreement is that non-specific as to geographics? AND to top it off I am an IT person working for a company not in the IT industry where I have been doing on the job learning (meaning I'm teaching myself) as far as fixing computers, networking, & new software; this agreement says I can not use any skilles I learned on the job, any software used, or pretty much ANYTHING dealing with anything I've done at this company. I was also originally their Office Manager, but they want to fire, instead they switched me into a position with an expiration date. What can I do???

  • #2
    Only a local attorney can read the agreement and tell you the consequences. My first thought was whether they can condition continuing employment on a signature (some states allow this and others do not)....this is what I found:

    An article specific to Missouri:
    http://www.mobar.org/journal/1998/mayjun/corrigan.htm although it is a tad bit old (1998) That article does state "A court will not enforce a non-compete clause if there is no consideration for it.57 However, Missouri courts have held that continued employment is a sufficient basis to support a finding of consideration.58 Therefore, it is rare that this defense is successful. "

    But since this article is so old, court decisions could have changed. That's why it is important to seek competent local counsel.

    Actually the next link is the same article updated in 2006 : http://www.mobar.org/e65a5cb3-f81e-4...e91cdfab0.aspx

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    • #3
      If it were me, I would sign the agreement without making a fuss. My rationale is:

      (1) If you fight it and then sign under protest, you will mark yourself as not being a team player which reduces your perceived value to the company

      (2) For the future, given that you are an IT person, it is probably unlikely that your next job will be with a company that competes with them

      (3) Even if you go to work for a competitor, it would be extremely difficult for them to prove that an IT person doing IT work constitutes competition with them, a possible exception being expertise with proprietary software that you carry to a competitor, but that would have legal consequences totally separate from a non-compete.

      (4) Odds are they generated the non-compete for customer-facing employees or those doing work associated with their core business, and then decided to have all employees sign the agreements rather than decide who should and who shouldn't

      There is some risk here, but to me it would easily be acceptable risk. You need to assess it from your perspective.
      Last edited by Scott67; 10-14-2009, 10:56 AM.
      Please post questions on the forum rather than sending me a private message or email. That way others who have similar issues have access to the discussion.

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      • #4
        This is what my reference says about non-competes in Mo. Missouri law is generally supportive of non-compete agreements. Such agreements are enforceable "if" they concern a protectable interest of the employer and are reasonable in time and geographic restrictions. "Each case is determined on its own facts."
        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

        Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Betty3 View Post
          This is what my reference says about non-competes in Mo. Missouri law is generally supportive of non-compete agreements. Such agreements are enforceable "if" they concern a protectable interest of the employer and are reasonable in time and geographic restrictions. "Each case is determined on its own facts."
          Good words, Betty. Actually, it makes me feel even a little stronger about my recommendation. In the situation described, my opinion (which of course is worth nothing legally) is that "protectable interest of the employer" and "reasonable in time and geographic restrictions" would both fail.
          Please post questions on the forum rather than sending me a private message or email. That way others who have similar issues have access to the discussion.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Scott67 View Post
            In the situation described, my opinion (which of course is worth nothing legally) is that "protectable interest of the employer" and "reasonable in time and geographic restrictions" would both fail.
            I also agree, Scott.
            Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

            Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

            Comment

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