I bet you thought I was going to tell you about a law in Virginia wherein employees have a right to request a copy of their non-compete / employment agreements.

After all, that is the title of my post, but in all honesty, the title was a hook.

We get calls from Virginia employees frequently (and searches on the blog and website) who think they have a non-compete agreement or employment contract, but do not have a copy. Therefore, they do not know what they are permitted to do and what they cannot do upon departure.

Further, we get calls from folks who think they never signed an agreement but are being told by management they did, and now they want to request a copy.

So, how do you make an employer hand over your agreement?

Simply stated, you can’t.

There is no law in Virginia on point, no right to contracts you have signed. There is a presumption that people keep their own copy of signed documents. I know, crazy right? Keep a copy of something you sign? Who does that?

So if you find yourself in this odd situation, here are a few of your not so great options:

1. Ask for a copy during employee reviews – just as a follow up.

2. Ask for a copy before your leave (although this clearly sounds an alarm of your intentions to compete).

3. Don’t ask for a copy and risk being sued because you do not know what actions are permitted.

4. Ask a colleague to see his or hers – maybe it is the same.

None of these are great options. If you are sued for breach of contract, they will have to prove to the Court you did sign the agreement and are thereby bound. So if they cannot find the agreement or you never signed one, it does work to your benefit as you may not be successfully prosecuted without a signed agreement.

Moral of the story is simple. Keep a copy when you sign it. If it is too late now for that advice, ask for a copy, it is better to know what you are limited to.

As I stated earlier, you can’t MAKE them give you a copy but you can ask. If your request is refused, there is little you can do.

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