I worked for a spa for 2.5 years and
was told that I had to sign a contract
after being there for 2 years. I was
told that if I didn't sign the contract I
would not see new clients. In this
industry that is my livelyhood. I
signed the contract which stated
that I could not leave to work at
another spa within 5 miles and if I
did leave I could not defeer from the
I decided to leave after I was charged
an amount of money per service that
I did without knowledge of the
charge and also my sister who
worked there with me was falsely
accused and fired for stealing. I
attempted to stay but because of
constant gossip and the massive loss
of money from my check.
I did contact clients to let them know
that I was leaving and how to
contact me but I did not insist that
they follow me to my new work.
I recently recieved a letter from my
former employer that stated that he
may take legal action for my leaving
and contacting clients.
There are times in the contract that
he has violated terms. I also did
contact clients which can be
manipulated into a violation.
Any suggestions on how to handle
the situation and what I can do if it
does go to court?
2 Answers from Attorneys
Re: contract violation
In general, "non-compete" agreements may be enforceable (as your former employer seems to be threatening) but the terms of the agreement cannot be unrreasonably restrictive.
It is hard to give any helpful advice without seeing the agreement that you signed and reviewing the terms and conditions of the contract. It would also be important to understand all the exact facts and circumstances relating to your leaving and your contacts with clients, so you may want to consult an attorney in your area.
Re: contract violation
Non-compete agreements such as the one you signed are valid and enforceable contracts, subject to a rule of reason. There are two aspects--the geographic area covered by the non-compete provision, and the length of time after severance of the employment relationship in which you are prevented from working in the industry. The wider the area, and the longer the time, the more likely that a court would rule the clause as being unduly restrictive on your right to pursue your profession, and decline to enforce it.
As for your right to contact clients, it would have been better to do this after you left the company, but it's probably harmless, as long as you didn't cast aspersions on the company or make other inappropriate statements.
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