Non-compete Agreements: Why You Should Not Sign One (and What to Do If You Did)

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

Like most states, Louisiana lets employers ask employees to sign Non-Compete Agreements.

What are they? 

They are contracts that after you leave or lose the job, keep you from doing similar work in a region, for up to two years.  Employers often give these agreements to a new hire with a lot of other paperwork, so you might not notice what you are signing if you aren’t careful.

These agreements began as something to protect company secrets and investments, but have been allowed to spread into practically every type of job, even fast food outlets and home health sitting companies.

Why not sign? 

Employers who won’t hire you unless you sign a non-compete agreement will usually sue you for money and to make you stop working at your new job or self-employment if you violate the agreement.  So, it’s best to not even sign one in the first place.  How do you avoid signing one?  Just say “NO.”  It’s not illegal for an employer to ask you to sign, but you do not have to sign it. You can say, I’ll work for you but not sign that non-compete agreement, if you will still take me.  You can also say no to the job.

If you need work and jobs are hard to find, it will be hard to say “no” to an employer demanding you sign a non-compete agreement to work for them.  But, once you sign one, you’ve limited your choice of future jobs or self-employment for up to two years from when you stop working with that employer.  If you are fine with that, and really want the job, there may be no reason for you not to sign a non-compete agreement. When more and more employers use these agreements to restrict more and more people’s right to work, it gets harder and harder for everyone who works for a wage or who wants to start their own business.

What if you signed one? 

Protect yourself from being sued.  If the agreement is legal, the employer can sue you for any money loss you cause their business and a court can order you to stop working at the new job.

If you aren’t sure it is legal, consult a lawyer if you can.  If it is legal, wait for the time limit to pass before starting any type of work that might be covered by the non-compete agreement.  If you are sued, see a lawyer right away.

Updated January 12, 2021 

Funds for this program are limited and may have already run out. However, as the program gets more funding, those who applied earlier may have priority as funds are awarded again.

Who qualifies for the program?

Workers who meet all of the following requirements are eligible:

Worked more than 32 hours per week in restaurants, bars, or hotels before March 9, 2020 in the following parishes:

  • Assumption
  • Jefferson
  • Lafourche
  • Orleans
  • Plaquemines
  • Bernard
  • Charles
  • James
  • John the Baptist
  • Tammany
  • Tangipahoa
  • Terrebonne
  • Washington

Have minor children (under 18 years) and/or other qualified dependents

Whose total Household Income was at or below these amounts, by parish:

*Must be at least a household of 2 for the program.

*Applicants who have previously received funding are ineligible.

What is the program called?

The Greater New Orleans Foundation Service and Hospitality Family Assistance Program.

How do I apply for the program?

You can apply online at https://www.grantinterface.com/Home/Logon?urlkey=gnofscholarship.

  • You will need to create an online account using your email address.
  • Applications are available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

You will need to provide:

  • A scanned copy of your driver’s license or another other government-issued ID
  • Scanned copies of your pay stubs for the last 30 days you worked
  • Copy of your 2019 tax return (If you do not have a 2019 tax return, you can submit your 2018 tax return.)

You can watch a video on how to apply at this website.

Scanning Your Required Documents

To submit your documents electronically, you will need to scan them. You can do this from your phone or tablet. You will need a device with a working camera and can download a free scanner app from the Google Play store (if you have an Android device) or App Store (if you have an iPhone/Apple device).

  • Place the documents you would like to scan on a flat surface with a plain, dark background.
  • Take a picture of the document with your device’s camera. Try to stand over the document so that you can get a picture of the whole page. If there are multiple pages, be sure to take a picture of each page.
  • Be sure to check that the document is not blurry and is easy to read.
  • The app may ask you to name the scanned document. You should include a date, your name, and a short description of what the document is.
    Example: 10.04.2020_Jane Doe_Pictures.

The app will ask if you want to save the scan. It’s a good idea to save the scanned document to your device so you have the documents ready to send.

How long does the process take after I submit my application?

Applications are reviewed within 10 days after they are submitted. If you are approved for the grant, payments are made within 14 days after approval.

If I need help or have a question who can I contact?

You can send questions to this email address: assistance@gnof.org. 

 

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only.

If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

 

SLLS Protects Homes and Savings for Low-Income People

When Estelle* walked into our office, she was distraught.  At  66 years old, after working hard her entire life, she suddenly faced the possibility of losing her home and  her savings. Her health was deteriorating and since she received only $800 a month in retirement, she didn’t have enough money to get another apartment. She was scared she would end up sleeping on the streets. Most frustrating, Estelle knew she had done nothing wrong.

Estelle had worked for her previous employer for over 10 years. She did odd jobs on her boss’ properties and helped get them in shape for inspections. Her employer always paid her in cash and sometimes withheld some of her earnings to help her save for big expenses. This relationship worked well for both of them. About five years ago, her employer offered a new arrangement – the opportunity to lease-to-own one of his properties.  She was excited about the possibility of owning her own home and the stability it would provide. She looked forward to aging in place there.  Her boss said she could use $10,000 of the money he had “saved” for  her to put towards the down payment. Then the plan was for her boss to withhold  part of her pay to cover the monthly rent. Estelle was thrilled. She signed a 30-year lease with option to purchase her new home.

The arrangement was great for the first couple of years. Then Estelle’s bosses who co-owned the business employing Estelle started fighting with each other. There was disagreement on who owned the business and how to dissolve the business assets. Estelle wound up being fired and then served with an eviction notice accusing her of not paying the rent. On top of that, they denied they owed her any money for her past work. That’s when Estelle called SLLS.

Attorneys from SLLS’s Employment and Housing Units teamed up to help Estelle. Getting justice for Estelle took months and several court appearances. More than once, Estelle thought about giving up. She found the legal process confusing and frustrating. The stress of the situation was taking a toll on her health. Without SLLS, Estelle could not have afforded to have an attorney. With SLLS by her side, she continued to fight for what she knew  was right.  In the end, the court dismissed the eviction and Estelle got to keep her home. The court also found ordered the employers to pay  Estelle  $23,000 in unpaid wages. Now Estelle’s doesn’t have to worry about losing her home and her future is secure.

 

*Our client's name has been changed to protect her identity.

 

PLEASE NOTE BEFORE READING: The names and other identifying information of the individuals portrayed were changed to protect our client’s identity.

Gene hoped to build a better life for himself. When he was a teenager he was charged with a misdemeanor and was sent to jail. After his release, Gene struggled to make a living for himself. While he was qualified for a job at a large Downtown New Orleans Hotel chain the employer refused to accept his job application since he had a criminal background. Gene felt defeated and didn’t know what to do. It seemed as though he would never be able to escape the mistakes of his past.

Then Gene came to Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS). His SLLS attorney determined he was eligible for an expungement. An expungement would seal his criminal record from public view so it cannot be used against him in the employment or housing application process. SLLS also referred him to our partners at the STRIVE Future Leaders program for job training. Thanks to these efforts, Gene got his record expunged and gained more jobs skills.

When Gene re-applied for the hotel job, his SLLS attorney went with him to advocate for him and help the employer understand the expungement process. The employer reconsidered Gene’s application and decided to give Gene a chance. Now Gene is working full time and making a good living wage, with opportunities for internal advancement. With a stable source of income, he is providing for his minor child and has reunited with his family. Today, Gene is a community leader showing others that mistakes made in the past can be overcome.