Just want to leave peacefully!

I moved from Washington State for a job and have been employed with a proprietary school for several months. My contract included a non-compete clause that outlined the following:

1. no direct or indirect employment with any company that directly or indirectly competes with any of the Company's markets in the U.S.

2. for a period of 12 months following termination or resignation

First, this would prohibit me from working in any proprietary school related to my background, training, and education in any state offering curriculum slightly similar to that of my current employer. This company acquires schools all around the U.S. on a regular basis, and currently has prospects in Washington, which is where I wish to return.

Second, given my background, training, and education, am I really expected to be unemployed for an entire year?

Finally, there is speculation of foulplay at the executive level, contributing to my desire to leave and return to my former position. I do not wish to use any potential information as leverage (as the community in which I work is small and in constant change), therefore burning bridges. I would like to leave peacefully, and perhaps find another way to relieve myself from this non-compete clause.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

1 answer  |  asked Aug 22, 2006 10:23 PM [EST]  |  applies to Colorado

Answers (1)

Nina Kazazian
Enforceability of a non-compete in Colorado

Not all non-compete provisions are enforceable. This is a matter of state law. Is the agreement governed by Colorado law or another state? If the agreement is governed by Colorado law, you should be aware that Colorado has a statute that makes non-compete provisions unenforceable UNLESS they fit into 4 specified exceptions. In order to answer your question, I would need more information about your position and the company's business.

You do not indicate what your position was with this company or details about what kind of business in which the company is engaged, so I can't determine from your question whether any of the exceptions might apply.

In addition, there are contract principles which also come into play to determine whether such a provision is enforceable. Such provisions usually have to be reasonably narrow in terms of duration and geographical scope. And, the company must have given you some kind of "consideration" in exchange for your assent to the non-compete.

Did you sign a written agreement? Did you do so as a condition of employment or after you had been working there for a while? If the latter, did they pay you something of value--not just continued employment--in exchange for your agreement?

In short, your question requires an examination of the document and other facts about your employment and the circumstances which led to your resignation.

I strongly recommend that you consult with an attorney to evaluate your situation, and help you determine the appropriate strategy. Some issues can be resolved through negotiation with the company, and if you have information that might give you leverage, this could be helpful.

Any potential employer during the one-year term will also need to evaluate the agreement, because if they hire you in violation of the agreement, they could be subject to liability for claims as well.

Please feel free to contact me at my office (303-888-1100) to set up a consultation. I should be able to answer your question in that meeting.

posted by Nina Kazazian  |  Aug 23, 2006 12:51 AM [EST]

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