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Contract forbidding you to work

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  • Contract forbidding you to work

    My sisters employer is trying to get her (and others) to sign a contract that states if she is FIRED that she can not work with another company doing the same thing. All she does is imaging for different companies. She is not full time nor does she receive benefits. Is this legal?

  • #2
    It's legal for them to try. It's called a "non-compete" agreement. However, the employer is normally required to give some type of consideration (doesn't have to be money) to the employee for signing the agreement. In addition, I don't know what state you are in, but non-competes that are that stringent (including being fired, I've never seen one with that in it) often do not pass the test of being enforceable.

    I would recommend she show this to a local attorney versed in this kind of issue. She can get a referral consultation for a reasonable fee.
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    • #3
      exactly

      non-competes are almost standard nowadays. usually they're negotiated at the hiring period. As in we'll offer you this job if in exchnage you agree that you won't do x. once hired, they usually do have to offer something in exchange, such as a bonus or etc. They might be able to simply offer you the right to keep your job in exchange, but not sure of the status of the law on that.

      in any event, non-competes are strictly construed against the employer as a restraint upon a persons ability to earn a living. duration of the non-compete is one element. distance of the non-compete is another. breadth of non-compete is yet another (e.g.: a organic chemist being forbidden from all chemistry or just organic chemistry). ability of the person to find other work is still another. and type of work is yet another (for example, courts do not like to limit doctor's ability to practice where they provide a public good, whereas a person who's sole job is to think of unique, privililged marketing strategies for a tire company would be opposite). Perhaps most importantly is the level of work, where a non-compete on a general auto mechanic or bus driver would likely not work in any fashion, but a CFO of a cutting edge tech company or product designer for fashion house would. Each state is different. very general guidelines would be for one year or less and less than statewide, depending on industry and degree of specialized knowledge.

      btw, non-competes can be challenged after the fact.

      curt j.

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      • #4
        CurtJ has it right. The restrictions have to be reasonable in location, scope, and duration.

        You haven't made it clear enough what she does and what the limitations are on where she can work. If you do so, I can probably tell you whether the agreement would be upheld by a court.

        One question is how courts treat these restrictions if they are found to be unreasonable in location, scope, and duration. Court has two options - disregard the term entirely - or limit its scope, location, duration to make it more reasonable.

        That being said, even if the agreement is valid, they are a pain to enforce. First, how is the employer going to find out? Second, do they really want to spend money trying to get an injunction on a "maybe" when they aren't really harmed? Third, do they want to develop a reputation for suing employees?

        In light of those considerations, someone who isn't me recommended that she might just go ahead and sign the agreement and then proceed to ignore it if the situation ever comes up.
        Last edited by grasmicc; 08-16-2005, 11:51 AM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Sass609156
          My sisters employer is trying to get her (and others) to sign a contract that states if she is FIRED that she can not work with another company doing the same thing. All she does is imaging for different companies. She is not full time nor does she receive benefits. Is this legal?

          When I worked for a home health agency we all had to sign contracts that if we VOLUNTARILY left employment with the company that we would not seek employment with any other home health agency for a minimum of 6 months. Alot of us didn't want to sign and we pooled some money and consulted with an attorney. She told us that it was pretty standard, however the reality was that it would be very difficult to enforce. She said we should go ahead and sign, which we did. Two of our nurses and a medical records clerk quit and went to other agencies, nothing was done to them. So it appears that your sister signing it probably won't be a big deal.
          xena

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