Have a general question about employment law? Want to share a story? I welcome all comments and questions. I can't give legal advice here about specific situations but will be glad to discuss general issues and try to point you in the right direction. If you need legal advice, contact an employment lawyer in your state. Remember, anything you post here will be seen publicly, and I will comment publicly on it. It will not be confidential. Govern yourself accordingly. If you want to communicate with me confidentially as Donna Ballman, Florida lawyer rather than as Donna Ballman, blogger, my firm's website is here.

Friday, July 19, 2013

More Answers To Your Noncompete Questions

I'm still getting lots of questions on noncompete agreements. Here are some of your questions, and my answers:

Bounced Checks, Unpaid Overtime, and Selling Company

Hi Donna
I work in jackson Wyoming in decorative concrete work I signed a non compete with my employer and he has been dropping the ball by bouncing payroll checks not only to me but to vendors and so on. I just found out he is trying to sell the company and a lot of his clients are asking me to do their future jobs what do i do or can i do to be out of this mess. Oh and he has decided to not pay overtime and bank our hours even though we refused because we never collect them all.

Hi DJ. I'm not sure about Wyoming, but in many states failing to pay all wages due, which would include those bounced checks and overtime, would be a defense to enforcement of your noncompete agreement. You should talk to an employment lawyer in your state about collecting what's owed to you, and about how to defend against your noncompete. To collect those unpaid wages, you could also contact the Department of Labor for help. Just remember that they are a very busy government agency.

As to the company being sold, it will depend on your state law and what your noncompete agreement says. If the agreement says the company can assign the agreement, or that it applies to their successors, then you may be bound even if the company is sold. Again, this will depend on your state's law. In Florida, companies didn't used to be able to assign noncompetes. Now they can.

The other issue about a sold company will be whether they continue in your line of work. If a company abandons a line of business, a geographic area, or specific customers, they have no legitimate interest to protect in keeping you from working in those lines, areas or for those customers.

Company Moved

Question: I signed a non compete in Kansas, and my company moved to Missouri. Is this enforceable now?
Private Investigator
Hi Private Investigator. As I mentioned to DJ above, it will depend on the facts. If your contract says that you can't compete in Kansas and the company no longer does business in Kansas, they'll have a hard time showing they have a legitimate interest to protect. However, if they do business nationwide and continue servicing Kansas customers, then the agreement may still be enforceable. Depending on your state law, you may have a defense if you're fired without cause or laid off due to the move. Here in Florida, that would not be a defense.

Sign Or Be Fired, Then Hours Cut

Hey, I live in ohio and im currenlty under a non compete for demolition and asbestos abatement. I basically forced to sign when he said "sign or I cant employ u any longer" since then my hours have dropped off the charts only receiving 16-24 hours a week making 13 $/hr, clearerly not enought to provide for my 16 month old son! I feel like I could some how get out of the non comepte due to the lack of hours provided but I dont know.

 Hi Chris. Some states don't allow employers to coerce you into signing by saying, "Sign or be fired." They require additional consideration, such as pay increase or promotion. However, states like Florida say that continued employment is sufficient consideration for a noncompete. Pretty crappy, huh?

In your case, however, it sounds like your employer knew they were going to cut your hours when they demanded you sign. That sounds like fraud in the inducement to me. It might be a defense to enforcement of your noncompete agreement. You should talk to an employment lawyer in your state about your rights.


  1. Hello, my husband works and is employed in Florida. When he was hired, he signed a non-compete for the Florida territory. In his agreement the agreed to pay him a monthly car allowance as well as reimburse him for his expenses. Since he started, his responsibilities have changed, they took away his car allowance and have not reimbursed him for expenses. He is an expert in his field. Can he get out of his non-compete.

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  3. My husband worked for a terrible company "A", (a subcontractor on a gov't contract), we were looking for a new job out of state due to our poor treatment by this employer. A different subcontractor on this same contract offered us a job (and 3 of our fellow employees), reviewed our p/w with the orig company "A", said there was no non-compete & said if company A sued us then company B would pay for our defense in full. We quit & went to company B. company A sued. Company B hired a firm directly to handle our defense. Prelim. p/w and pre-trial proceedings went on. When the lawyers were just about to file motion for summary judgement, company B said they would now only cover $500/mo of our costs. We don't have the money for this. What do we do now? - Kelley H. Pensacola, FL


I appreciate your comments and general questions but this isn't the place to ask confidential legal questions. If you need an employee-side employment lawyer, try http://exchange.nela.org/findalawyer to locate one in your state.