Fresno, like many California locations, is home to many different types of jobs – some big and some small. Employers may try to force you to sign a non-compete clause as part of your employment contract. They’ll say that they spend a lot of time investing in training you, giving you the tools to do your job, and helping with your career. They’ll argue they shouldn’t have to worry about your leaving for a new job after they’ve invested in you.
There’s no need to buy the employer’s argument. Employees in Fresno have the right to leave companies if a better job comes along – provided they give proper notice. Employers don’t hesitate to fire employees these days. Many companies don’t last for more than a few years anyway. Employers shouldn’t be able to control where you work and what type of job you do. They shouldn’t make you sign a non-compete clause and they shouldn’t try to enforce it.
Your right to compete with the employer in a new job, provided you give proper notice, is written into California law. California now has a law that voids any non-compete clauses – and any restraints on a worker’s right to work in any business, profession, or craft. The law generally applies to almost every type of job.
Your rights to hold the employer accountable for violating the California restraint of trade law
If an employer tries to enforce a non-compete clause because you left to start a new job, you have the right to assert that the California restraint law is a solid defense. You may even have the right to file a legal claim against the employer for enforcing an invalid claim.
If an employer fires you because you refused to sign a non-compete clause as part of a new contract, you likely have the right to file a wrongful termination case. In this type of case, with the help of experienced Fresno employee rights lawyers, you can demand:
- That the employer reinstates you
- That the employee pays any income or the value of any benefits you lost due to the firing
- That the employer pays legal fees for a clear violation of the California statute
How standard non-compete clauses work
In most states, non-compete clauses are allowed provided the employer doesn’t overreach. Examples of overreaching include:
- Enforcing the non-compete agreement after a significant amount of time has passed – often, a year is the guideline.
- Enforcing the non-compete agreement even though the employee works in a distant location where the competition would be minimal.
A few exceptions where employees can restrain employees
Employers do have some rights that employees need to know.
Generally, employers can require that employees not use or disclose trade secrets and other forms of intellectual property. Employers must wait until there is disclosure. Even when there is a disclosure, there may be defenses such as that the information was essentially public.
Employers who buy an interest in a business can require that the seller not compete with them – at least not in the same general location. This idea, that buyers can negotiate non-compete terms with sellers, also applies to partnerships and to limited liability corporations.
A few additional items of concern for employees
Employers in and around Fresno are trying to avoid the California restraint of trade law in artful ways. Artful doesn’t mean legal though. Employees should speak with experienced Fresno lawyers about challenging these strategies.
The first strategy is to have the employee sign an employment agreement that provides that contract disputes won’t be decided by California law – but rather by the law of the state where the employer is headquartered or incorporated.
The second strategy is to force employees to sign employment agreements that require 90 or even 180 days’ notice before the employee can quit.
Fresno employees have rights. When employers dictate when and where they can work – after the employee leaves the employer – employees should speak with skilled Fresno non-compete lawyers. Employees who are fired for refusing to sign a non-compete clause should definitely seek legal help. The experienced Fresno attorneys at the law offices of Stephen Danz & Associates can help employees get justice. To speak with a knowledgeable lawyer, please call (877)789-9707 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment. Se Habla Espanol.