Legal Question in Employment Law in California

I work for Edward Jones Investments (for 6 years), and I am being asked to sign a new employment contract. Although the wording is similar to my original contract, there is some more restrictive language that basically bars me from talking to my clients for 1 year if I leave, EVEN if the client contacts me!

I don't understand how they can do that? Is this really enforcable? Doesn't a contract require consideration? I'm not "getting" anything by signing this, other than keeping my job. This is complete crap!

Asked on 12/12/12, 7:07 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Though it is impossible to fully assess your contract without seeing the actual language, the provision prohibiting you from talking to your clients for one year even if the clients contact you (without any solicitation on your part) is likely unenforceable. There may be other non-compete and non-solicitation provisions in your contract that are also unenforceable. Perhaps you can negotiate with your employer for removal of that provision by telling them that you have consulted with an attorney and have been advised that the provision is unenforceable and you donít want to sign the agreement with the unlawful provision. Also, it is generally unlawful for your employer to terminate you for refusing to sign an unlawful covenant not to compete, so if you do seek to challenge the provision, and are terminated because of your refusal, you could file a lawsuit against your employer. Just be sure to put in writing, i.e. in an email to HR and the appropriate upper management employees, that you are refusing to sign the agreement as written based on the fact that it contains an unlawful covenant not to compete. Again, however, it is imperative that a lawyer review the actual language of your contract in order to fully assess your legal rights.

If you are looking to hire an attorney to assist you with negotiation of your contract, do not hesitate to call our office at 415-788-0888.

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Answered on 12/12/12, 10:44 am

Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

You don't have to sign, and they probably don't have to keep you employed. You should review your existing contract for the applicable provisions about this. You might attempt to negotiate a different contract provision regarding these 'non compete' type issues. Such provisions are enforceable if they are properly done within the guidelines of the law. However, this large corporation has certainly prepared this 'boilerplate' under the guidance of their highly paid attorneys, so don't expect to get personalized contract provisions different than all the other employees in your category. If you are senior management, you have a better chance of an individualized contract. If serious about hiring counsel to help in this, feel free to contact me.

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Answered on 12/12/12, 4:59 pm

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