We are seeing sad trends in Virginia businesses.

1. New Non-compete for old employees
Employees after years and years of service, are being asked across the board, to sign non-compete agreements and or more restrictive non-compete agreements.

Often times HR directors are sending emails to all with the attached agreement, and telling employees they have 24 hours to sign and return. When employees naturally inquire as to what happens if they refuse to sign, they are being told, again by HR and not management, refusal to sign will lead to being let go.

Employees feeling helpless, sign.

OUR OPINION: Don’t just sign it. Speak to other employees, see if a group wants to pay for an attorney to have the document(s) reviewed. Go to HR in a group to express concerns. Don’t let HR define your employment. See if an attorney drafted the agreement – could your attorney discuss it and negotiate it with the company’s attorney.

WHY? No one wants to lose all of their employees over a contract issue. No one wants a few key employees to walk because of a new agreement – often times, they will respect your concerns and changes will be made.

2. Scape Goat

We are also seeing companies make strategtic decision to file suit against one employee who left on bad terms, to teach the other employees the lesson of what happens when you breach your non-compete.

You don’t want to be the scape goat – but if you have left on bad terms, and plan on breaching your agreement, then you will need counsel. Guaranteed your ex-employer has had attorneys looking at your actions for weeks maybe months – best offense in Virginia could be a good defense, or alternatively, a good offense.

3. Unwillingness to release even if fired

Yes, it is a recession. Some say up to 17% of Americans are looking for work. This means many more are losing jobs and have non-competes which limit their options. Out of fear, we are seeing companies refusing to let employees they have just fired, out of non-competes.

We have helped employees negotiate releases and once you know your options, you may even be able to convice your ex-employer, they can’t win in court.

The economy is doing strange things to employers and how they treat employees. Be prepared and know your options, before its too late.

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

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