Most of our clients come to us after signing a non-compete agreement with their employer with the question, “How do I get out of this thing?” Well, the best way to limit or even eliminate the impact of a non-compete agreement is to negotiate with your prospective employer before you sign the non-compete agreement!
Many employers require non-compete agreements simply because everyone else does. When you take a job, it’s up to you to protect your rights and freedoms. The best strategy is to negotiate the non-compete agreement without suggesting you are insulted or bothered by it. Since such agreements are often legal boilerplate, a company may be willing to negotiate specific terms. You may be able to get both the compensation deal you want and a comfortable non-compete agreement.
For example, a 100 mile radius for the non-compete may be reasonable but a 500 mile radius is unreasonable. A five year limitation on working with a competitor is totally unacceptable but you may be able to live with a one year restriction. How about listing the names of the companies who are direct competitors and agreeing not to work for those companies for one year! Is it fair for an employee in an “employee at will” state to be required to sign an onerous non-compete when they could be fired, without cause, in 30 days? The answer is “NO” and if your prospective employer sees it otherwise…maybe the job offer is not so good after all!