“Right to Work” in Virginia

“Right to Work” in Virginia 150 150 Lauren Ellerman

A few years ago, my mission in life became clear.

To educate my fellow Virginians on what it really means that Virginia is a “right to work state.”

Most Virginians think that “Right to Work” law means, one of the following:

  • Your boss cannot prevent you legally from accepting a job elsewhere if you get fired (ie, you have a right to work in any field you chose)
  • Non-compete agreements are not really valid because after all, you have a legal right to support your family and work
  • It is against the law to even threaten an ex-employee to sue him or her if they want to work for a competitor because Virginia is a RIGHT TO WORK where you want state

All of these are wrong. Sorry guys.

The following is true under the current common law of Virginia:

  • You can be prevented from taking a job if you violate a contractual duty or violate another duty such as your fiduciary duty, Virginia Trade Secret Act, etc.
  • Your boss can sue you and make you sign a non-compete
  • You can be fired for refusing to sign a non-compete
  • Many non-competes in Virginia are valid

Just last week a highly paid professional who was in the business of advising Virginia employees said to me: “Non-competes aren’t really upheld in Virginia, right? Because Virginia is a right to work state.”

Ugh. I gasped. Another one. Another person who hears a well marketed catch phrase and makes no effort to understand what it really truly legally means.

So my mission is not over.

Right to work really means the following: You can’t be fired for refusing to join a union. Can’t be discriminated against for that choice.

Yup. That’s it. Not really glamorous. Not really helpful for most of us and certainly has nothing to do with your employment contract or restrictive covenants.

So please, know your actual rights and the laws in Virginia. If you have been asked to sign a non-compete or restrictive covenant in Virginia, learn what it means REALLY. Learn what your rights and restrictions are. Call an attorney who knows Virginia law on non-compete agreements today.

Our office can typically do  review in 2-4 hours. We typically have  a 48 hour turn around time and can help prepare you to make the transition from one job to the next. Call Lauren, Rob or Dan today at 1-866-985-0098 to learn  more.


About the author

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.

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