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noncompete agreements

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I work in Washington state as a copier salesman. I have been in this industry for 10+ years. Recently, I was offered a new position at a competitive dealer, which I very much wanted. I approached my current employer and he told me that I had a noncompete agreement. He also told me that I could buy out of the agreement for $25,000. I told him that was unreasonable and that I was more than willing to sign a nondisclosure statement and a confidentiality agreement. He said I would have to do that anyways. He also stated that if I chose to work for the competitor he would slap me with a restraing order and sue me. However, I could resolve all of this for $25,000 or I could stay employed by him.

Do I have any recourse? If so on what grounds?


Ex Hr Guy

Do not be initimidated but be smart. I do not know Washington State law, but in California non-compete agreements are absolutely illegal and unenforceable unless you are the seller of a business.

In most states they are enforceable only if tyhey are reasonable in time and duration, and do not have the effect of making someone unemployable.

You are right in that what he is asking sounds outrageous. But for a few hundred dollars (lots less than the boss' $25,000) an employment lawyer -- and AttorneyPages.com lists lots who are employment specialists in Washington State -- can look at the agreement, tell you what Washington Law say and write a letter to the SOB stating that this is what the law says and if you don't like it we'll counterclaim. That should make the blowhard back off I imagine.


Thanks ex hr! Looking into atty now. Wish I was in CA though---it appears as if my situation would be cut and dry there.


My two cents is that according to my experience as a California attorney, non-compete agreements are legal in this state. The limitation on such agreements is that they have to be reasonable in the sense that it can't have the effect of preventing the employee from working. One particular limitation is that the non-compete agreement can't have a geographical boundary of say 1,000 miles. In any case, do speak with an employment law attorney near you.

Mark B. Replogle

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