Legal Question in Business Law in California

I recently started my own janitorial business. I also work for another business doing the same thing. My boss wants me to sign an agreement stating that I will not compete with her business within a 75 mile radius. Is that legal? I run my business from home which is within that radius.

Asked on 1/13/15, 11:27 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

William Christian Rodi Pollock

lsy I don't know all your facts, but you should be aware of the Busness and Professions Code provisions. Section 16600 of the California Business and Professions Code states that "every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void." There are some very limited exceptions to this rule involving the sale of a business or the dissolution of a partnership. The reason for this rule, which dates back to 1872, is the state's policy of protecting its citizens' right to pursue the employment of their choice. However, this may not prevent you from being discharged by your employer.

There are also other issues, like taking customer lists or pricing from your employer, or simply poaching clients. These may constitute unfair business practices.

Seek help from an employment attorney and advise him or her of the specifics of your circumstances.

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Answered on 1/14/15, 10:48 am
Keith E. Cooper Keith E. Cooper, Esq.

Mr. Christian is correct. Your employer can't legally stop you (or anyone else, for that matter) from competiing with her business, but she can fire you.

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Answered on 1/30/15, 2:00 pm

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