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Can an employer force you to stay working based on a 3 month termination notice clause ?

Somerville, MA |

I am currently employed by an employer that is giving me a hard time with a clause of giving them 3 months notice prior to my me leaving on my own to work for a competitor.
The contract I signed states I "Shall" give 3 months notice and also has a 6 month non-compete clause. I am still willing to honor the 6-month con-compete which is paid in 100% full salary.The offer I received from competitor is contingent upon me starting in Six months from now which the six months non-compete starts a week from today. I only have a week and my company is forcing me to stay 3 months.

Is this legal in Massachusetts ? Can I walk out ? The contract I sighed at the end states I am an "At will" employee...contradicting.The contracts does not define what the consequences are in a breach of to the 3 month

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Attorney answers 2


The answer to your question depends on the precise contract language, which an employment attorney would have to reveiw before giving you advice. Most employment contracts define the consequences of a breach. In any event, I am sure that you remain bound by the 6-month non-compete and the 3 month resignation notice, even if you walk out. The consequences of breaching your contract may be that you will be fired, denied a severance package, and not given a positive reference.

Gary S. Sinclair is an attorney licensed to practice in Massachusetts. All answers are based on Massachusetts law or a simple reading of the law in your jurisdiction. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to your question. The information provided should NOT be relied upon for making legal decisions. You will be best served by hiring an attorney in your area who specializes in the field of law pertinent to your question.


No one can make you stay on a job that you want to leave, but they can sue for breach of contract where they can show damages. The non-compete clause of your contract is generally enforceable, if it was bargained for (mutual benefit) and the breach jeopardizes the company’s proprietary interests. Recovery for the breach of the three months notice provision would require proof of damages (training new staff, hiring a temporary replacement at higher salary, loss of a skill only you and only you can provide, loss of customers directly attributable to your departure). Enforcement of the three month clause would be onerous.

As you can see - a full answer to you question is heavily fact dependant - you should consult an attorney for a full analysis of your options.

This is not legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should speak to an attorney for further information.

Gary S. Sinclair

Gary S. Sinclair


A very professional response.

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