Nothing more completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity than straightforward and simple integrity in another. (Colton)
For a year Jim did a two hour commute-one way, every day. What a horrible thought. He did it to get out of a non-compete agreement. Do you think he will ever sign another one?
Lawyers in Pennsylvania are expressly prohibited by law from having non-competes for lawyers. It is unfair, they say, to do that to lawyers and their clients. A lawyer leaving a law firm SHOULD be allowed to steal clients. So why do non-competes apply to everyone else? Because lawyers are paid to write them.
There are reasons to sign a broadly applicable non-compete agreement:
- You will be trained from total ignorance to blinding expertise and will be paid lavishly with a guarantee of 1 year of pay after you are fired or quit.
Not a long list. Is it?
Here’s a list reasons to sign a limited non-compete agreement:
- You will learn crucial trade secrets
- You might steal customers or employees
- You will receive some training and the costs need to be repaid
A simple non-compete clause is the most dangerous. You can be barred from every job in an industry or area if your contract only says, “You will not compete.” Make sure any contract you sign clearly states what specific things you are not allowed to do. It should list:
- A reasonable period of time that you cannot compete (never more than a year)
- A precise group you are not allowed to work for or call on
- Specific jobs you cannot do for someone else
- A geographic area it applies to (within 35 or 50 miles of where you worked)
If you don’t like a contract, change it. Cross out sections and write in the margins. Initial the changes. Handwritten changes on a contract take precedence over the typeset text.
Take control. You want a job, not a prison. You need freedom to take another job in order to make this one worthwhile. Have the guts to change a contract that is too restrictive. You’ll be surprised how often your changes are accepted. If they are not accepted, leave. Value your freedom.
Something To Do Today
Time to gossip. Ask people you know or strangers you meet at bars or the gym about non-compete agreements. Get them to tell you horror stories they have heard of. You will be appalled. It is an education you need.
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