I worked for my former employer for 4 months and they eliminated my position. I signed a 2 year non-compete which (my fault) I was not made aware of. It's labeled "confidentiality agreement" and I thought I was signing a HIPPA agreement. After 3 months of unemployment I went to work for a competitor approx 25 miles away. I received paperwork in Dec from my previous employer that im violating my non-compete agreement and they will take me to court if i dont resign. My current employer has offered several positions as well as different areas (one 33 miles away) for me to work. My previous employer has denied all of them. This has all been done between attorneys for both companies. I need an attorney who feels confident they can WIN my case and not charge me. Advise???
Employment / Labor Attorney
You will need to pay for an attorney. This is not the type of case that legal aid offices take on, and by the time you find a private attorney who will take it on a pro bono basis, you'll already be in retirement. A lot of attorneys do a lot of pro bono work, but this is not the type of case that they do for free. You need to weight the cost of losing this job against the cost of hiring an attorney.
This answer is provided for guidance only. DO NOT rely on it as legal advice. We DO NOT have an attorney-client relationship. You should contact an attorney in your area for a one-on-one consultation before pursuing any action or making any decisions.
2 lawyers agree
First, let me be clear: Lawyers practice law as a profession and a vocation. In some areas of law, like personal injury law, it is feasible to handle cases on a contingency fee (i.e. no charge up front). In this particular type of law - commercial litigation - lawyers generally do not take cases for free. You have stated, bluntly, that you are looking for a lawyer who wants to take your case without charging you. I have never heard of a lawyer taking non-compete cases for no charge.
Putting aside your (unrealistic) expectations of finding a lawyer who will handle your case for free, I'll note the following: Although non-compete agreements are generally enforceable under Florida law, there are limits and exceptions. Some of the facts you have set forth may give you arguments against enforcement of the agreement. For instance, if you worked somewhere for three months, your exposure to any confidential information etc. may have been very limited. You will have to speak with a lawyer, go over all the facts of your case and determine what your options are.
In terms of specific options, your choices are basically as follows:
(1) Do nothing and see what happens.
(2) Quit your job or relocate further away.
(3) Hire a lawyer to write a letter to your former employer rebutting their allegations. (This works more often than people realize).
(4) Sue your employer first for a declaratory judgment if the facts warrant it.
On balance, options 3 and 4 seem like your best options. But they will require actually hiring (and paying) a lawyer. Good luck.
My response to this question is a response to a hypothetical situation based on limited facts. I am not your attorney; you are not my client and we do not have an attorney-client relationship. If you need a lawyer, you should contact one in your area. If you would like to talk with me about your case, you can call my office.
3 lawyers agree
Employment / Labor Attorney
I agree with attorneys Pollard and Slack. I exclusively represent employees, and very often on a contingency basis, but there is no possible way an attorney could calculate a percentage fee based upon maintaining your position with your new company. Most of all, if you currently have a job and are getting paid, then there are at least some funds available to retain an attorney. Shop around and find someone you are comfortable with, from both a professional and financial standpoint. Ms. Slack's comment is spot on: you need to decide whether keeping your job is worth the relatively small price of retaining an attorney. I would caution, however, not to approach each lawyer asking them to work for free- doing so will make it very unlikely that an attorney will take you seriously, let alone listen to your legal problem.
That said, a 2 year non-compete is most likely unreasonable. What line of work are you in? Did you possess confidential knowledge from your work with your previous employer? If not, then a court is more likely to see the non-compete as simply punitive and as an unreasonable restraint of trade. Many attorney will offer a free consultation, but non-competes are an area of law where it will be well worth spending a few shekels on a competent employment attorney to preserve your job.
This is general information only and does not constitute legal advice, nor does this communication in any way establish an attorney-client relationship. Feel free to contact me directly for further information at 239-985-9691.