Non-compete agreements have been used in the market place for decades within certain sectors, such as physicians and some sales representatives. In the past year or so, I have heard from several workers who signed non-compete agreements. One poor young woman, in her 20’s, was sued after she changed jobs. She simply moved to a job in the same field but at a higher rate of pay. There was no agreement with her new employer to bring a “secret” customer list or to solicit customers from the old employer. She simply changed jobs because the new employer offered higher pay.
Yet, the old employer filed suit against the young lady. The suit accused the young woman of stealing customers and damaging its referral program. The poor young woman kept telling me how the lawsuit was inaccurate, that only one customer switched, and that there was no referral- rewards program at the old employer. She seemed intent on convincing me that her cause was just. I could only smile and tell her well, those are good defenses, but you still have been sued. I suggested she ask the new employer about hiring a lawyer for her. But, she explained, all they did was hire her. There was no agreement or plan that she bring customers with her. The new employer will surely not be interested in helping her with the lawsuit. The young lady is paid perhaps $10 per hour. She cannot afford to hire a lawyer.
The old employer will seek a temporary restraining order that could limit her ability to work. So, this is a huge issue for this young woman.
I wrote previously about non-compete agreements at a fast food sandwich place, Jimmy John’s, here. Sheesh. You know non-compete agreements are ubiquitous when they are signed by the youngest workers, with the least experience.