In the 21st century, the days of working for one employer are long gone. Most Ventura workers will work for numerous employers during the lifetime. That’s the reality of the current job market. Employees shouldn’t be forced to sign non-compete agreements. Non-compete agreements provide that the employee has to pay damages to the employer if the work for a new employer or start their own business.
Employers like non-compete agreements because they spend a lot of time and money helping employees do their jobs. But employees know the employer can fire them as soon as the contract term expires.
California law protects the employee when it comes to anything that restrains the right of a worker in Ventura or elsewhere to work – including non-compete clauses. The Business and Professions Code provides, with some exceptions, that every contract that restrains someone from working in their chosen trade, business, or profession is void.
Ventura workers can file claims against employers who seek to enforce a non-compete clause or require that the employee sign a non-compete clause
California’s law against non-compete clauses is clear. Employees who are forced to sign a non-compete clause as a condition for getting a job or keep a job have the right to seek legal recourse. When employers seek to enforce a non-compete clause, the employee has the right to seek legal recourse.
Skilled Ventura employee rights lawyers can help employees by filing wrongful termination cases, by defending enforcement actions, and by filing frivolous lawsuit claims against employers who fail to comply with California’s restraint of trade law.
In wrongful termination cases, where an employee is fired for failing to sign the non-compete clause, the employee can seek:
- Job reinstatement
- Back pay and back benefits
- Legal fees
- Other applicable damages
How standard non-compete clauses work
While California has a strong restraint of trade law, most states aren’t so enlightened. Employees need to have some understanding of the laws of other states because employers may try to have the employee sign an agreement that California law doesn’t apply – the law of the state where the employer is headquartered should apply.
Most states hold that non-compete clauses are valid unless:
- The non-compete clause prevents the worker from getting a new job after a reasonable amount of time has passed – such as a year.
- The non-compete clause prevents the worker from working in another state or in a site that is far away. For example, most workers who sign non-compete clauses should still be able to work in the same type of job if their new job is more than 50 miles from their old job.
A few areas where employers can restrain employee movements
There are two main areas where employers can assert their rights when employees go to a new job.
- Sales of an interest in a business. If a business owner, partner, or limited liability corporation owner sells their interest in a business, often the buyer will suggest or insist that the seller agree not to compete with the buyer for a reasonable time. These agreements are generally valid unless the seller wants to start a new business in a location that is far enough away not to be a viable competitor.
- Trade secrets and intellectual property. Often employers worry that employees may take customer lists and other valuable information to their new job. Employers usually require that employees sign an agreement, as part of the employment contract, not to use or divulge any trade secrets, copyrights, or patents. These clauses are generally valid. Some defense may apply such as that the information was public or easily obtainable.
Attempts by employers to get around California’s restraint of trade law
Some Ventura employers try, usually disingenuously, to get around California’s non-compete prohibition. Two of the more common methods employers are using – are requiring that the employee:
- Give three or six months’ notice instead of the standard two weeks’ notice.
- Agree that that disputes will be heard according to the law of the state where the employer is headquartered – which is often a different state than California.
Employees should speak with experienced Ventura employment lawyers before signing an employment contract. They should schedule a time with a skilled employment lawyer if employers have wrongfully fired them or if the employer is trying to enforce the employment contract against the employee’s wishes. For experienced help, call the Ventura law offices of Stephen Danz & Associates. We understand employee rights. For help now, call (877)789-9707 or use our contact form to make an appointment. Se Habla Espanol.