Many people, even those who are typically quite fastidious, may gloss over the specific requirements in their employment contract when starting a new job. A combination of excitement about this new opportunity and the assumption that the language is always the same from contract to contract can lead to people signing things without realizing what they’re agreeing to.
Executives, educated professionals and other high earners are often among those whose contracts include restrictive covenants. Non-compete agreements are common restrictive covenants included by employers to protect them from competition by former employees. The terms of a non-compete agreement usually prevent someone from starting a business that competes with their former employer or work for a competitor.
Do you have to worry about such terms in a contract you signed?
California generally won’t uphold non-compete agreements
Non-compete agreements can keep someone from supporting themselves and may leave them tied to a business because they can’t seek a job elsewhere. Employees are often the ones who take risks and make sacrifices, while big businesses can simply withhold employment from those who won’t sign.
Non-compete agreements and other contracts can stifle innovation and limit business growth. As such, the California courts do not typically uphold such agreements. With very few exceptions, people who pursue job opportunities in the same industry as their former employer will not incur financial penalties or other consequences for doing so.
Even if your employer included such terms in their contract with you, the California courts will likely not uphold such terms if your dispute ends in litigation. Knowing this can make it easier for you to push back against an employer’s threats or attempts to control your future career path. You may want to talk with an experienced attorney who can help you better understand and assert your rights.