You found the perfect job. Your interview went well and you are ready to get started, but then it happened. Before you can officially be hired, however, you are told you need to sign certain employment contracts, including a noncompete agreement. Do you really have to sign it? Do you and other California residents in your same position have a say in the matter?
A noncompete agreement basically requires you to sign your rights -- to work in the same field in a certain locale and for a specific time period -- away. It is an employer's way of protecting his or her business. These employment contracts help with employee retention and protecting trade secrets. These agreements are enforceable, so be careful and be sure to read and understand the terms before signing.
You do not have to sign a noncompete agreement. You do have every right to refuse; just know that doing so will likely result in you being passed over for the job. Instead of flat out refusing, you can try to negotiate the terms of the agreement. Some employers have basic noncompete forms that they are set on using for everyone. Others may be willing to adjust the terms so that all parties involved are happy and protected.
Not sure what to do if you are presented with a noncompete agreement? Do not feel rushed into signing the contract the same day. You have every right to take your time to review employment contracts and seek legal advice as to whether it will hurt you in the long run. If you failed to seek counsel before signing such a contract, and you now believe the terms to be unfair, an experienced California-based employment law attorney may be able to help you fight to have the contract invalidated. To learn more about addressing employment contract issues, please visit our firm's website.