I love quizzes and magazine surveys. Let’s take a short one here.
Would you rather:
Spend (a) $2,000 or (b) $20,000 on attorneys fees?
Obviously – b.
Let go of a dispute quickly by (a) walking away, or (b) fighting it out until the end and having a judge say you win?
(a) Eat a little crow and apologize for something you didn’t really do wrong, or (b) spend the next year in litigation paying a lawyer thousands and thousands of dollars?
Yikes, I hope you say b.
Rarely, and I mean rarely is non-compete litigation really about the facts, or the contract or the law. It’s typically about people. People who make decisions do so based on personal lives, finances and sadly, egos.
Companies often make bad decisions based on emotion and ego.
Individual employees don’t have that luxury. They have kids to feed, and mortgages.
So yes, I may advise a client or two “Your non-compete agreement is invalid under Virginia law. If a judge is asked to decide it’s validity, he or she will say it is not binding as it is unreasonable, etc..BUT trust me, that is no victory. That is a $20,000 legal argument and you don’t get that money back. So, is it better to look for a new job, or transition to a different field, or pay your old employer a few dollars and apologize, or pay me for the next year and hope the judge agrees with you?”
While I understand it is about the principle, sometimes I ask clients to be a little more realistic and prudent. After-all, you can spend a lot of money on attorneys fees chasing a principle.