Do I Have to Sign a Non-Compete to Keep My Job?
As an employee, any number of issues could come up at your job that could threaten your future employment with the company. One issue you may not have considered, until your employer brings it up, is a non-compete agreement. If your employer calls you in to the office one day and asks you to sign a non-compete agreement your first though will likely be “Do I have to sign a non-compete to keep my job?”
First, it helps to clarify what a non-compete agreement is and why your employer would want you to sign one. Also known as “restrictive covenants”, a non-compete agreement is an agreement between you and your employer that restricts your future employment in some way. Common restrictions include:
Preventing you from working for a competitor for a specific period of time
·Preventing you from working in the same field within a specific geographic radius of your current employer.
Forbidding you from sharing/using trade secrets of your employer.
Forbidding you from soliciting customers or clients of your employer’s should you decide to open your own business.
Non-compete agreements can be enforceable if certain conditions are met and if the restrictions are not unreasonable. Often, and employer will ask a prospective employee to sign a non-compete agreement when the employee is offered a position with the employer. Sometimes, however, an employer will request an existing employee to sign a non-compete agreement. Your employer cannot force you to sign the agreement; however, you could lose your job if you refuse to sign the agreement. It is perfectly legal for an employer to ask you to sign a non-compete agreement at any point in time, though Pennsylvania courts have typically required an employer to provide some type of consideration when an existing employee is asked to sign one. For instance, your employer might offer you a pay raise, a bonus, or a promotion in return for signing the agreement.
Whether or not the agreement is enforceable though may take a back seat to the fact that your employer could terminate your employment for refusing to enter into the agreement. The potential consequences of your refusal to sign a non-compete agreement may depend on whether or not you are at “at will” employee. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania you are an employee “at will” unless you are working under an employment contract. As an at will employee your employer can terminate your employment at any time and for any reason. If you have an employment contract though the terms of the contract may protect you from any negative consequences should you refuse to sign the non-compete agreement.
Ultimately, however, the decision to sign the agreement or not is yours to make. Given the fact that both your current and future employment opportunities will likely be affected by the agreement it is certainly in your best interest to consult with an experienced Pennsylvania employment law attorney regarding the agreement prior to deciding whether or not to sign it.
If you believe you have been discriminated against in the workplace, contact an experienced Conshohocken, 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 today to schedule your free consultation.