Non-Compete Agreements: What Happens If You Get Fired?
A non-compete agreement is a legal contract between an employer and an employee that restricts the employee from working for competitors or starting a competing business for a certain period of time after the termination of their employment. While non-compete agreements can serve a legitimate purpose for protecting a company`s trade secrets and confidential information, they can also pose a significant risk to employees` career opportunities.
If you sign a non-compete agreement and then get fired, what happens? The answer depends on the specific language and terms of the agreement. Here are some common scenarios:
1. The non-compete agreement is invalidated.
In some cases, a non-compete agreement may be deemed unenforceable if it is too restrictive or not reasonable in scope. For example, if the non-compete agreement prevents you from working in a particular industry or geographic area for an unreasonable amount of time (such as several years), it may be deemed invalid. Alternatively, if the company breached the terms of your employment contract or engaged in wrongful termination, you may be able to argue that the non-compete agreement should be invalidated.
2. The non-compete agreement is still enforceable.
If the non-compete agreement is deemed valid and enforceable, you may be restricted from working for competitors or starting a competing business for a certain period of time (typically between 6 months and 2 years). This can significantly impact your ability to find new employment opportunities in your field. However, some states have laws that limit the enforceability of non-compete agreements, so it`s important to consult with an attorney who has experience in employment law to determine your legal options.
3. The company releases you from the non-compete agreement.
In some cases, the company may choose to release you from the non-compete agreement as part of a settlement or severance package. This can give you greater flexibility in your job search and potentially allow you to work for a competitor or start a competing business without violating the terms of your agreement. However, you should always review any settlement or severance agreement carefully and consult with an attorney before signing to ensure you understand the terms and potential consequences.
In conclusion, if you are subject to a non-compete agreement and get fired, it`s important to understand your legal rights and options. While non-compete agreements can be restrictive and limit your career opportunities, there are ways to challenge or negotiate the terms of the agreement. If you`re unsure about your legal options, consult with an experienced employment law attorney who can help guide you through the process and protect your rights.