no compete convenant

i worked for a house cleaning co. for 3 years, recently new ownership took over and i lost my health benefits, i had to sign a non compete agreement or they would have let me go, i made it clear that i would have to look for new employment adventually. During my 3 years of employment with prior owners i had mentioned to my clients that i would eventually be leaving this company, and would like to just work for myself, several told me that if i decided to do that they would perfer to cancel with this company and hire me, Upon giving this new company my two week notice and letting my clients that i cleaned know i would be leaving the company try to work for myself, a few said they were very dissatified with this company and would cancel if i would consider cleaning them, otherwise they would cancel anyway as they didn't want anyone else in their homes, that they knew my work and trusted me. I never once asked any of them to cancel and go with me meaning i did not solicit them, they asked me. I told them i had signed an agreement not to solicit their customers their reply to me was you aren't soliciting me i am asking you,i have the right to hire who i want to clean my home. I have wanted to go on my own for along time now, but stayed with prior co. for the benefits, which i no longer have, i feel it is time to better myself. Guess my question is, if this people choose to fire this company and hire me [ it's only a few, and the company will loose them anyways ] can the employer sue me. Do I not have the right to work where i choose and at what i choose to make a better living? It's not like I'am giving these people any confidential information or anyting like that. Nor did I solicit them.

1 answer  |  asked Mar 17, 2012 08:37 AM [EST]  |  applies to Florida

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Answers (1)

Phyllis Towzey
It depends on the wording of your agreement. Noncompete agreements are enforceable in Florida. If you signed an agreement promising you would not work for the same customers for a period of time, then you can't do it. However, if your agreement just says you won't solicit customers and they contact you after you've already left, then that would be ok (realize, though, that you can't indirectly solicit either -- i.e. you can't say to a customer - "I can't ask you to hire me because I signed a nonsoliciation agreement," then have the customer say, "ok, I'll ask YOU." That's the same as you soliciting them.

My advice is to have a lawyer look at your actual agreement and explain what your rights are. You want to avoid being sued.

Regarding you question about whether you have the right to work where you want, yes, you did have that right BEFORE you signed the agreement, but you gave away part of that right to your employer in exchange for keeping your job.

posted by Phyllis Towzey  |  Mar 18, 2012 11:04 AM [EST]

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