Question 7 – How can I get "out" of a non-compete agreement?
If you signed a legal and enforceable non-compete agreement, you are bound by the terms of the non-compete agreement. To many people, this may come as a surprise. They simply think they can just get out of the agreement. Well, it doesn’t work like that. However, you do have options (as like most things with the law).
You could offer to pay the employer or come to some other kind of agreement with the employer so you can do what you want to do. You’ll want to get the employer to sign a release of your non-compete agreement, along with the consideration that you’re giving the employer for the release of your non-compete agreement.
In short, make sure you fully understand the terms of the non-compete agreement before you sign it! And read legal articles like this to stay informed about your legal rights and responsibilities.
Question 8 – What would happen to me if I violated the non-compete agreement?
Maybe nothing, as long as your employer does not want to enforce the non-compete agreement. But you’d be lucky if that were the case. It is more likely that your employer will either file a lawsuit against you to enforce the non-compete agreement for an injunction (i.e. decree to the court to refrain you from violating the non-compete agreement) and/or money damages.
As long as the employer can show valid reasons for the non-compete agreement and your signature on the non-compete agreement, you will likely be fighting an up-hill battle. You’ll likely have to hire an attorney and pay a decent amount of legal fees to fight your former employer in court. And if the non-compete is valid and you clearly violated it, you’ll likely lose your fight and may even owe the employer its legal fees.
Additionally, the employer could file a tortious interference action against the employer that you’re now working for in violation of your non-compete agreement. In this respect, your new employer will be in violation of the non-compete agreement. If your former employer does this, your new employer will likely terminate your employment so as to avoid further litigation costs.
In short, it could cost you a lot of money…and perhaps even your new job.
If you think that you’re not violating your non-compete agreement, it’s still generally a good idea to hire a lawyer to review it for you to be on the safe side.
Question 9 – Can my employer assign the non-compete agreement to another employer?
Generally, yes. Non-compete agreements are generally assignable, i.e. freely transferable. The two main exceptions to this rule include if the non-compete agreement (i) does not permit assignments or (ii) the non-compete agreement is for a highly individual service (e.g. you contract with a famous artist to paint your portrait).
Next, we’ll go over non-compete agreement question 10.