Companies think they own their employees, past and present. A new trend in hiring is the non-compete agreement. Once a critical tool used only to ensure the sanctity of trade secrets, more and more companies are using them to prevent employees from seeking employment elsewhere.
One newly fired employee came to Reddit wondering what to do after the old company tried to strongarm them into signing a non-compete agreement.
What’s a Non-Compete Agreement?
Non-compete agreements ensure employees don’t steal trade secrets for a competitor. They typically prevent an employee from working with a competing entity for a specific time and outline things they can never bring to a new company, like client lists or secret formulas.
They’re a good idea for companies when used sparingly because some employers will try to jump ship with client lists and secrets.
However, far too many companies use these agreements to prevent their employees from leaving. Many are too broad in scope, and the company using them has no secrets to protect.
They use them to limit their employee’s opportunities elsewhere.
Losing a Job for Being Sick
The Original Poster of our post (OP) said they were let go from their job after performance issues related to cancer treatment.
They found a new job quickly, but right before they were about to start, they received a terrifying email.
Signing a Non-Compete After the Fact
OP’s old employer sent an email demanding they sign a non-compete agreement preventing them from working for a competitor for three years.
The company stated they’d pursue legal action if OP refused to sign.
What To Do?
OP doesn’t want to get sued, so they came to Reddit for advice. Is this a legitimate business practice? Could they really pursue legal action if they didn’t sign?
Signing would prevent OP from taking the new job, which is technically a competitor.
No Consideration, No Contract
Reddit users informed OP that the company’s ask is ridiculous. Not only is three years an outrageous amount of time, but OP no longer works for them, and they aren’t offering any compensation in return for signing.
Most non-competes are only enforceable if the signer gets some type of compensation, and as OP no longer works for the firm, they clearly aren’t getting anything.
They Can’t Do Anything if You Don’t Sign
Many users said that non-competes are often unenforceable due to their broad scope and ridiculous expectations, but OP didn’t even sign anything.
No one can force you to sign a contract. That’s not how contracts work.
Some would love to see a company try to sue someone for refusing to sign a contract and watch the judge laugh in their face.
The threat to sign a non-compete serves as further proof of a terrible company. We already knew they were bad because they fired someone for a short-term health issue, which might be illegal, depending on the jurisdiction.
Threatening someone with legal action is over the top, though. OP is fortunate that they escaped this horrible company.
Lots of Bad Companies Out There
Though this situation is egregious, OP isn’t alone in dealing with shady tactics from unscrupulous companies. Most will do anything they can in their quest for profits, whether it hurts their employees or customers.
Businesses don’t care. All they care about is profits.
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