A few years ago I received a call from a very thoughtful mother, who was calling our office on behalf of her daughter.

She was a recent college graduate, in need of work, who agreed to work for peanuts, OK, maybe pennies, as a staffing recruiter in the retail industry. She basically would find people online who needed work, and try to get them to apply for various jobs.

No experience necessary. No formal training prior to being hired. Not a great salary – oh, and an ironclad non-compete agreement that said this young woman could not take this new skill to another company within 50 miles of her current office, for two years.

Sweet innocent and well meaning young woman, decides she doesn’t want to make peanuts anymore, and applies at another recruiting company. She leaves on what she thinks are good terms, and the week she starts her new job, is served with a lawsuit claiming breach of contract, etc. The old employer is asking the court to enter an order preventing her from staying with the new company.

Poor gal can’t even afford our consultation fee, and her mother offers to hire counsel to provide advice.

To those of you who have recently graduated – CONGRATULATIONS. I know this is an exciting time and you are looking forward to joining the workforce, looking for an apartment, meeting new people, getting a great job etc. I also know this is a hard time to find work, so beggars can’t be choosers  — BUT that does not give you a free pass to throw that expensive college degree along with your brain out the window.

As an adult, you need to do adult things – like consider the risks and benefits of an offer. Read the employment contract that is part of your agreement. Ask questions. Agree to disagree and maybe, just maybe, don’t take the job if the terms are oppressive.

If you can’t afford an attorney to review your Virginia Non-compete, call Mary Ann in our office today and order your FREE copy of How to Beat your Virginia Non-Compete. You can probably skim the whole book in 1 hour – which means if and when you are offered a job with a non-compete or non-solicitation, you will know more about your options.

Again, congrats. Good luck on your job search and please, please, don’t get yourself into a mess that requires a lawsuit and or call to your parents for help.

Lauren Ellerman

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at