Preventing Miserable Non-Competes

Fight over non-competes or they’re go for your throat when you get your next job

Non-competes suck. Not that it’ll keep me from having my employees sign a terrible non-compete, but I still give them options.

A comedic non-compete from a ways back was with Jimmy John’s, a fast delivery sandwich joint, similar to Subway. They had a very strong non-compete that every employee making a sandwich had to sign. They couldn’t work for a competitor for two years, even if they were just making $7.25 while putting together sandwiches. A competitor was effective anywhere that makes sandwiches (possibly your own kitchen?).

It’s just slightly overkill when it’s a minimum wage job, and they can sue your butt off if you forgot about it.

Getting enforced on a non-compete

Depending on the state, anything can happen in a contested non-compete violation. I’ve heard in California, it’s almost impossible to enforce a non-compete. In Tennessee, it’s impossible to get out of one. Even in California, avoid the non-compete instead of contesting it after the fact.

Getting enforced on a non-compete sucks. I had a perfect manager accept a job at a new company, only to get slammed by a non-compete. In a few seconds and a phone call from a lawyer, that opportunity vanished into thin air.

Personally, I want the smallest non-compete I could get my hands on. “You are not allowed to help steal customers you worked with directly for one year after you leave.” Something similar works in most situations.

An extra qualifier I’d want: “If the company cuts my pay, rearranges my bonuses so I earn less, or fires me for anything besides dishonestly, I can work for anyone I choose.”

Sadly, those contracts are never going to appear in a contract. They still give an idea for what to look for in a contract.

Don’t be afraid to cross out the non-compete clause in a contract before signing it, or portions on the clause. Bring a sharpie to any place where you’re expected to sign a contract. For a short video on that, check out our YouTube here.

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