Should I sign a non-compete when I am bringing skills to the job to create new function there?

I am interviewing for a sales job. I have very specific skills in a specific sales area. I am interviewing for a new division that I would create and run at the company. My prospective employer wants me to sign a non-compete. Since I am bringing 20+ years of sales experience, and specific knowledge of this new division to them, I don't think it is wise to sign a non-compete. What if they hire me and in a couple months they learn my secrets and eliminate my job? Should I have them sign a non-compete with me? I am OK with signing a non-disclosure. I understand that they will have specific pricing and customer structures that I could agree not to disclose. Also, in the sales field in Cleveland, what is a good amount of time for a non-disclosure and non-compete clause? One year? My sales field is fairly specialized. I can work in general sales, but I have a vast amount of knowledge in one specific area that if I sign a non-compete it would be difficult to find work in this area of Ohio.

2 answers  |  asked Sep 22, 2009 06:27 AM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

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Answers (2)

Bruce Elfvin
We have either directly or indirectly assisted clients in negotiating restrictions on proposed non-competes where the individual was being hired for their depth of knowledge and experience in a specific area. Your situation is not unique and you should use this as an opportunity to discuss what terms would apply and for how long or at all based upon how you leave at some point in the future.

Your reaction is correct and some of Neil suggestions are options that you can include in the discussions. I would definitely get legal counsel to at least review and advise you during this part of the process.

posted by Bruce Elfvin  |  Sep 22, 2009 10:18 AM [EST]
Neil Klingshirn
For the reasons that you identify, DO NOT sign away your ability to use your existing, specific skills. This may meant that you have to walk away from this opportunity.

Offering to sign a non-disclosure agreement is responsible. The duration of the NDA should reflect the length of time that the information will remain valuable as long as it is kept secret. Under Ohio's Trade Secrets Act, the statutory prohibition against using proprietary information has no end date. In other words, the duration is forever.

Here is an article on Trade Secrets: http://www.myemploymentlawyer.com/wiki/Trade-Secrets-Overview.htm

If you really want to explore this opportunity but the new employer is stuck on a non-compete, consider the following as compromises:

- agree not to solicit, accept or interfere with those customers that you develop. The employer has a legitimate expectation that it will not lose those customers when you leave.

- request severance pay for the duration of the non-compete. The new employer will probably not agree to this, but it will starkly illustrate the cost to you of signing that document.

Best regards,

Neil.

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Sep 22, 2009 08:51 AM [EST]

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