Termination for my Non Compete agreement

I signed a non-compete agreement with my former employee and then moved to a competitor. During my interview and after I was hired by my new employee they were aware that I was coming from a competitor and they were very happy about that. I was never asked if I had signed an NDA before I was hired at my new employeer. Once I started with my new employeer I spoke to my boss and let him know I did sign a non compete, but I did not feel that my old employee would persue any action against me.

Two weeks passed and I found out that my current employee was suing my old employee for stealing there ideas. The day after the law suite happened I received a letter from my old employee riminding me that I signed an NDA and that they would like in writing a letter stating that I would not give any Propriatary info to my new employee. This letter was also sent to my new employee. The day I was sent home from my new job I was told that I was fired and that until I got this figured out I was unable to come back to work. I am not sure if this is legal from them to fire me for no reason.

1 answer  |  asked Jun 27, 2003 7:58 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Unlock Non-Compete Agreements: Keys to Escape

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Propriatary Information

Your new employer can certainly fire you, in that you are likely an employee at-will.

As to the letter concerning propriatary information that your old employer wants, it really isn't necessary, but giving them such a letter probably would not do any harm. I don't know why so many employers do not know this, but, even without a non-compete agreement, an employer's propriatary information is protected from theft by a current or former employee.

The issue becomes what is propriatary information. Here, employers seem to want a very, very broad definition that would cover just about every piece of information you ever acquired while with teh old employer, including the location of the men's room. The law, however, will support only a much narrower definition of propriatary information, which unfortunately shifts depending on the industry involved.

Although you did not say so, I take it that your old employer is suing your new employer basically on the basis that the new employer hired you. The assumption is that on hiring you, the new employer got propriatry information belonging to the old employer from you. Actually, this type of lawsuit is the bigger risk in signing a non-compete, because most employers will react the same way your new employer did, by firing you.

Incidentally, your old employer may have walked into a lawsuit that you could bring against it, for intentional interference with contractual relations with the new employer.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Jun 30, 2003 09:45 AM [EST]

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