RETIREMENT AND NON-COMPETE AGREEMENTS
Okay…you have put in 25, 30, 35 or more years as a loyal employee. Your hard work, skill, and knowledge have made both you and your company a huge success. Now is the time to reap the rewards of your efforts…retire and head to the Caribbean or the golf course or write the great American novel!
The old gang at the office organizes a “retirement party,” food and drinks on the house…but before you get to that party the company CEO hands you a little agreement to sign. The agreement states that you will not have any business dealings with any of your company’s current or past clients and/or customers for a period of 5 years. It doesn’t seem like a big deal at the time so you sign the agreement and head off to retirement.
Retirement goes really well for the first 6 – 9 months but then reality sets in…you can only play so much golf…and there are a limited number of beaches you want to visit. Plus, you have been an 8 AM to 5PM (or more) guy for all these years. You have a wealth of knowledge and experience and many, many contacts in your industry or profession. You start thinking, “why don’t I do a little consulting work for my old customers and clients?” You start contacting those old business buddies and before you know it you are working 40 hours a month and making as much money as you did when you labored full-time.
Things are going great until you receive the letter from your old CEO advising you that you are in breach of your non-compete agreement and that your ex-employer is going to sue you for thousands of dollars unless you stop immediately (“cease and desist”).
My Take: You might just be in trouble! Don’t sign any non-compete or non-solicitation agreement in connection with your retirement without reviewing the agreement with a knowledgeable lawyer…if you do you may just live long enough to regret it!