Can Your Employer Enforce the Non-Compete Agreement After They Fire You?
As an employee you may be asked to sign a non-compete agreement prior to beginning work for an employer. Although the specific terms of a non-compete agreement can vary dramatically, the basic concept is the same in all non-compete agreements. The agreement will limit your employment options and/or conditions should you terminate your employment with this employer. For this reason alone, you should always consult with an experienced Pennsylvania employment law attorney before signing a non-compete agreement. What happens though if you are fired? Can your employer enforce the non-compete agreement after they fire you?
A non-compete agreement, or NCA, is a separate agreement, or a provision in an employment contract, that limits where and for whom an employee can work after terminating the current employment arrangement. The purpose of a NCA is to allow an employer to protect a legitimate business interest. As an employee you may have access to sensitive and/or confidential information regarding the products manufactured or sold by the employer. You may also have access to client or customer lists and contact information. All of this could be detrimental to your employer should you terminate your employment and go to work for a competitor or decide to start your own similar enterprise. Employees are often under the potentially mistaken belief that if the employer fires you a NCA becomes void or unenforceable.
The truth is that a NCA may be enforceable even if you are fired by the employer. First, you need to read through the agreement itself and see what the agreement says with regard to termination of the employment relationship. Often, the agreement will specifically mention enforceability should the employee be fired. Even if the agreement includes a provision that says the agreement is enforceable if you are fired you may still be able to avoid enforcement of the NCA under certain conditions. For example, if you were fired for discriminatory reasons, or because of other misconduct on the part of your employer, a court may not enforce a NCA. In addition, if the terms of the NCA are too broad in terms of duration or geography a court may limit those terms. Because of the complex nature of a non-compete agreement it is always best to consult with an experienced Pennsylvania employment law attorney if you wish to avoid complying with the terms of an agreement you signed.
Contact an experienced Pennsylvania employment law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. Contact the employment law attorneys at Curley & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819