my wife recently got a job as the assistant for the contractor that contracts the company i work for, now my boss wants me to sign a contract that states that i cannot work for any competitor, for myself, or affiliate with any employers of the company for five years after i leave the company. Meaning i cant practice my profession for 5 years after the end of my employment with the company, is this legal?
2 Answers from Attorneys
This sounds like an overly broad noncompete clause that the employer would have a hard time enforcing in court. Apparently your employer is afraid you will use your "inside information" at a competitor company to his disadvantage. However, in evaluating these clauses the courts have distinguished between unique proprietary information only available to employees and information gained through the natural process of experience over time. The problem is if you refuse to sign it and get fired you won't have any recourse against the employer. If the employer values your services perhaps he will negotiate something that is less onerous to you in the event you leave but still offers him some measure of protection.
Non Compete clauses or contracts are required to be limited in scope in both area and time. This means that a 5 year limitation may be enforceable, but there must also be a limitation as to the area of that limitation, i.e. say a 10 mile radius.
Although not asked, if the clause is carefully drafted, non solicitation of your employer's clients can be much broader in scope. I thought I would comment about it, as it usually comes up as well.
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