Being penalized for not signing or being aware of a non-compete contract

I work for a physical threap clinic and am currently being bound to a non-compete contract that I did not sign nor even knew about until I turned in my letter of resignation. The company that I currently work for saw that they have a non-compete contrac with and is telling me I need to wait 6months before I can work for the other company. In addition the setting that I would go into is completely different than the current setting I am working in now. Does my company have a right to hold me to that agreement even if I didn't sign it? And can I take legal action against them for witholding my rights to work?

1 answer  |  asked Jul 9, 2008 02:12 AM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

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Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
Contract requires signature

If you truly did not sign the non-compete, there is no way the employer can enforce it. The problem is that you may have signed it along with other documents at the time you were hired, which is when these things are typically presented to you. I would demand a copy of the signed agreement, jsut to see if they have one.
Your former employer has two ways to try to enforce this agreement. It can file a lawsuit seeking an injunction, in which case it will have to prove that you agreed to not compete. This also raises numerous other issues regarding the enforceability of the agreement. The employer can also attempt to enforce the agreement by telling your new employer, in which case the new employer may refuse to hire you or terminate your employment if you are already working. As I understand your question, this has apparently happened. If there is no agreement, the action by the former employer would be interference with contract or interference with prospective advantage, and you could sue for damages. Even if you signed such an agreement, there are several reasons why the agreement may be unenforceable. If your patients wouldn't be following you to the new employer, the old employer has no real interest that needs to be protected. Also, the agreement may be overbroad in its geographic scope.
I would encourage you to seek the advice of an experienced employment attorney to discuss the situation. If the employer refuses to give you a signed copy of the agreement, perhaps a letter from a lawyer will discourage the employer from interfering with your future employment prospects.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Jul 9, 2008 12:18 PM [EST]

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