Can My Employer Make Me Sign a Non-Compete Contract in Virginia?

I was watching a movie yesterday, so enthralling I cannot recall the name, but the last scene reflects a supervisor confronting an employee about lying.

When the employee denies the false tale, he is told to leave immediately. He cannot take computer files. He cannot take anything from the office. He must turn in his key, and leave – now.

The employee, perplexed, claims the supervisor can’t do this. The employee thinks his boss can’t:

(a) fire him without notice

(b) make him leave without his belongings

(c) deny him access to his computer.

It reminded me of the many calls we get from Virginia employees who are shocked and surprised by their employer’s actions.

We are frequently asked:

(a) Can they make me sign a non-compete, I’ve worked here for years?

(b) Can they threaten to fire me if I don’t sign the non-compete?

(c) Can they make me sign the agreement with only 2 hours to review?

(d) Can they put a non-compete in a severance agreement?

You get the picture. These actions seem shocking and unfair because they are surprising, not in character with your work history and basically don’t pass the smell test. You know, the it’s bad if it smells bad.

So, if you find yourself in any of the above situations, we would love to help. The answers to the above questions – both the ones posed by employee actor in the no name movie, and the ones often posed by our clients, truly depend on you, your employer, and the state where you work.

In Virginia, you can be fired for refusing to sign an employment contract.

In Virginia, you can be required to sign a contract to keep your job.

In Virginia, they can put a non-compete in a severance.

In Virginia, they can give you a limited time to review and accept a contract.

I know, these are not the answers Virginia employees want, so let us assist you in digging deeper into your rights.

And yes, Hollywood had it right for once, you can escort an employee out without notice, unless they have a contract that says otherwise.

Hmm… I doubt I’ll ever make this admission again!

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 lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.