California is home to numerous employers. Bakersfield is at the heart of that driving economy. Part of the reality of working in the 21st century is that the days of working for one company for life are over. Employees need to be able to move to new jobs to advance their careers and feed their families. Employers won’t hesitate to let employees go if they need to. Employees should have the same right to move freely.
In the past, it made sense for employers to argue that they invest a lot of time and money in their employees. But the past doesn’t apply now. Employers are always looking for new talent. Employees need to work where they feel secure.
California has recognized the changing economic landscape. That’s why it was the first state to pass a law that directly voids contracts that restrain anyone from working in a lawful business, trade, or profession. Bakersfield workers should feel secure that they can move to another job once their term of employment has expired – provided they give timely notice.
The new law applies to all types of skilled and unskilled workers.
Types of actions employees can file when employers fail to comply with California’s restraint of trade laws
Employees can always defend any enforcement action of non-compete clauses – by asserting that the California law on restraining anyone from working in their field applies.
If an employee is fired for failing to sign a non-compete clause, the worker can file a wrongful termination case. With the help of experienced Bakersfield lawyers, the employee can demand:
- Job reinstatement
- Financial compensation for any lost income, benefits, or other contracted for items
- Legal fees
Anyone who is denied a job solely on the basis of refusing to sign a non-compete clause may also have a claim against the employer.
The prior history of non-compete clauses
Most states, and California before the new law was passed, allowed employers to apply and enforce non-compete clauses in employment contracts. These contracts generally applied to workers who had more specialized skills. Many low-skilled workers don’t sign employment contracts – though there are exceptions.
Even when non-compete clauses are allowed, there are limits to how broad they can be enforced.
- Time restraints. Courts will often invalidate a non-compete clause that forbids the employee competing for any length of time. Usually, depending on the job, employment contracts that restrain employees for more than a year are invalid.
- Distance restraints. Courts also don’t limit the ability of a worker to use his/her skills in a job – if the job is reasonably far enough away to indicate there won’t be competition. Generally, employment contracts that restrain employees beyond a 50-mile radius or in another state are invalid
Again, non-compete clauses are generally not an issue in Bakersfield. Bakersfield employees can usually void a non-compete clause or a non-solicitation clause. Non-solicitation was aimed at preventing employees from soliciting new business from old clients.
A few areas where employers can assert non-compete clauses and related claims
There are a few areas where employers can enforce a non-compete provision or related provisions.
Employers generally can require that employees not divulge trade secrets and intellectual property to a competitor. An employer can’t stop an employee from moving to a new company – even if the employer has reason to believe the employer took a customer list or other valuable information. The employer can file a claim against the employee – if the employer discloses the information or uses it for his/her own business.
In Bakersfield, anyone who has an ownership or financial interest in a business, partnership, or limited liability corporation – may be asked by the buyer to sign a non-compete clause. These clauses are generally valid if they are not unreasonable as to length and geographical area.
Strategies employers use to navigate around California’s non-compete law
Some employers try to avoid the California restraint of trade laws. Employees who are asked to sign contracts with the following provisions should seek help from experienced Bakersfield legal counsel. Two common techniques employers are using to get around California’s law are:
- Requiring that the employee give three to six months’ notice before leaving a job instead of the usual two weeks’ notice.
- Requiring that the employee agree that all contract clauses will be decided by a non-California state such as a state where the company is headquartered instead of the state where the worker does his/her job.
Get help now. Don’t let employers force you to sign illegal agreements. Don’t let them place your career in jeopardy. For help with all employee rights matters including non-compete clauses, call the experienced Bakersfield employee attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates. You can call us at (877)789-9707 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. Se Habla Espanol.