Noncompete agreements are not favored in Washington, so the courts look at a variety of factors when interpreting and enforcing them (or not). The circumstances surrounding how and when you signed it, and why the company asked you, in particular, to agree to a noncompete are part of the equation. The skills, abilities, experience, contacts and years in your industry that you brought to the job, the amount of compensation you earned, whether you were executive level, management level, etc. will all be important. So, you really should consider taking your entire employment file to an attorney for review before deciding whether you want to commute, quit, or negotiate a mutual separation from the company.
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Non-compete agreements need to be carefully analyzed. Courts will enforce them but they do not like them. They need to be supported by adequate consideration and be reasonable in time, scope and restriction. Only an attorney with the full range of information can properly answer your question. My advice is to consult with an attorney immediately, then see if you can negotiate a waiver based on the change in conditions with knowledge about how strong your position is to oppose the agreement.
This response does not create a lawyer client relationship. Each case is determined on its specific facts and this reply is intended for a general audience and facts particular to your case may affect the answer. Consult with an attorney in person for specific answers to your questions.
Actually, if you signed at the start of employment, no additional consideration is required. But as for negotiating a waiver, that would seem to be a commonsense approach. I would be happy to discuss it with you.
The quickest way to get an answer regarding the enforceability of the non-compete agreement you signed is to call up a business attorney to take a look at the agreement itself and discuss the surrounding circumstances regarding your prior and future employment.
Courts disfavor non-compete agreements since they restrict the ability of people to make a living. Generally speaking, the terms of a non-compete agreement will only be enforced if they are reasonable in scope (the location and type of industry you're restricted from participating in) and duration (the time period that the restriction applies). Whether the restrictions are reasonable will depend on the facts and circumstances regarding your employment, the industry you work in, your location, and your future employment opportunities.
As I noted, give a call to an attorney if you want more specific answers regarding your non-compete agreement. Most attorneys offer free initial consultations. Good luck!
Without having the actual document to review, my answer can only be general in nature, since the actual contract sets the terms. Generally, a contract is absolutely binding if there is consideration given for the terms of the contract. This sounds like a non-compete contract, and there can be a legal basis for a court holding that the terms are no longer enforceable. However, rather than simply ignoring the terms of the contract, you should contact the company to see if they will give you a release based upon the new circumstances or you could bring an action in court to have the contract interpreted by the Court in a declaratory relief action. If you act without the company agreeing to a modification of the agreement or without a court ruling on the contract, you will probably find yourself having to defend an action for breach of contract. You need to contact an attorney for his/her review of the complete terms of that contract.
Advice based on a short inquiry can only be general and your personal circumstances will often result in advice differing from a generalized answer. You should only use solicited advice of this nature to determine whether a personal consultation with an attorney is warranted