Can my employer sue me over a non-compete agreement

I was hired as a sales manager and signed a non-comptete agreement by my current employer. After 1 year my employer demoted me down to an entry level sales rep with 15 years experience behind me. They cut my salay by more 50%. I am close to losing my house because of this. A competitor wants to hire me for a much better sales position with a pay rate thats close to what I was earning before. Can my empoyer sue me over the non-compete agreement? If my current employer fires me due to my struggling sales numbers and I go work for the competitor can they sue me over the non-compete agreement? I have 15-20 years experience in the product that I sell. I have been looking at sales jobs in other markets but, I lack the knowlege to get hired as a sales rep in other markets at the pay level I need.

Thanks for your help

1 answer  |  asked Feb 4, 2010 10:21 AM [EST]  |  applies to Connecticut

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Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
If 1) your non-compete is part of your employment agreement and 2) the employment agreement stated that you would perform sales manager duties at a specific salary, then the demotion and reduction in salary might amount to a material breach of that agreement by the employer. If an employer materially breaches a non-competition agreement, most states allow the non-breaching party (you) to rescind the agreement, including the non-competition portion.

You need to check Connecticut law to see if it allows rescission as a remedy for a breach of contract. You should also check with a qualified employment lawyer in Connecticut to see if there are any other valid defenses to the non-competition agreement.

Here is an article on Connecticut non-compete law:

http://www.cohenandwolf.com/CM/EmploymentLaborPublications/EmploymentLaborPublications88.asp

Note paragraph 10, which states:

An employer's material breach of an employment agreement can be a defense to the enforcement of a non-compete provision. Heritage Benefit Consultants, Inc. v. Cole, 2001 Ct. Sup. 2891, 2902-2903 (Conn. Super. 2001) ("[T]he breach of an Employment Contract by an employer is a recognized defense to the enforcement of a non-compete agreement.").

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Feb 5, 2010 5:05 PM [EST]

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