non-compete agreement

I received a job offer from an investment bank. However, a partner mentioned to me that the firm will likely request that I sign a non-compete agreement after I start (perhaps months later). After initial resistance on my part, I was told that the firm will not, and does not intend to, ask me to sign a non-compete.

Before accepting the job offer, should I get something in writing stating that the firm will not ask me to sign a non-compete within a certain period of time (say, within the first two or three years)? If so, would this agreement be enforceable?

I ask because I want to prevent a situation in which the firm does, in fact, ask me to sign a non-compete and I decline to do so and then am terminated for resisting. Having to leave a job only after one or two years, or even less time, would negatively impact my career prospects.

Thanks.

1 answer  |  asked Mar 3, 2007 10:20 PM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Unlock Non-Compete Agreements: Keys to Escape

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
Get the promise in writing.

A non-competition agreement is just that: an agreement. It is often part of an employment agreement. Therefore, ask your new employer to draw up an agreement that covers the essential terms of your employment. They would include:

1. Job title and duties.
2. Initial compensation.
3. Entitlement to benefits.
4. Term of employment; and
5. Any restrictive promises, like a covenant not to compete.

In your case, you would want to make sure that number 5 is not present and that number 4 is for a reasonable length of time, like a year.

Most employers, however, will not agree to continue your employment for a specific period of time. In that case, you are at risk that your employer will change your terms and conditions at any time by, for example, requiring a non-compete. Therefore, if this is an unacceptable risk, do not accept that employment.

A final strategy, if you employer refuses to guarantee a specific length of employment, is to get a promise that your employment will not be subject to a non-competition agreement. Make sure your condition your acceptance of employment on your employer's agreement not to require a non-compete and get it in writing. In that event, if your employer changes its mind and asks for a non-compete, you will have a basis for a breach of contract claim.

Contact me if you would like assistance drafting or reviewing contract language.

Best regards,

Neil Klingshirn

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Mar 4, 2007 11:55 AM [EST]

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