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

Posted on: July 19, 2021

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

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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.

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