Is my non-compete valid if I only worked at a company for less than a month?

I worked at a healthcare office for less than 4 weeks. I was fired because they felt that I was not working at their standards. Their office goes through new employees every week. I have another job offer but it is within the 20 miles of my non-compete clause. Will I be penalized for taking this new job? I was not allowed to work the job I was hired to do and was there less than a month. I have a letter that says they fired me because they didn't feel I was good enough to work there so how could I be a threat to them?

2 answers  |  asked Mar 14, 2011 8:11 PM [EST]  |  applies to Pennsylvania

Answers (2)

Scott Leah
I agree with Christopher. While this non-compete is, on its face, most likely valid, there are a lot of facts that you bring up that could either make it not enforceable or limit its application.

As he noted, there is some case law that holds that where an employer considers an employee to be worthless (and thus terminates him or her for poor performance), the employer would not have a legitimate business interest in that employee not competing with it.

Additionally, an employer must always have a legitimate business interest in order to enforce a non-compete. A strong argument can be made that an employer has little or no business interest in preventing someone whom it employed for just 1 month from competing with it.

You should give a lot of thought before you refuse to take a new job out of fear that your old employer will try to enforce the non-compete. There is a possibility that they will not even try to enforce it, for the above reasons. Even if they do, you may have strong defenses to any attempt to enforce it.

posted by Scott Leah  |  Mar 15, 2011 05:54 AM [EST]
Christopher Ezold
Before I respond to your inquiry, I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion below is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania or Federal law apply, unless otherwise specified.

That being said, a noncompetition agreement must protect a legitimate business interest of the employer to be valid. Courts have held that an employer has no legitimate business interest in preventing an employee who they have terminated for not being good enough from competing. If the reason the employer felt you were not 'good enough' was due to your willful failure to work, then you might be bound by the noncompete.

Furthermore, the time limit of the noncompete must be reasonable; having worked for only one month, a long noncompete is unlikely to be reasonable.

These are all very fact specific issues; I'd need to know more to give you an accurate response.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact me at the below address(es) or number.

/Christopher E. Ezold/
The Ezold Law Firm, P.C.
One Belmont Avenue,
Suite 501
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
(610) 660-5585

posted by Christopher Ezold  |  Mar 15, 2011 05:34 AM [EST]

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