I have been working for the same studio for over 10 years and now the owner has forced us into a no compete contract without any compensation. I am possibly getting fired due to illness (I was hospitalized) and lost work.. Will his contract stand up in court? I do not want to open a new studio just continue to earn a living without driving 30 miles out of town,.
Each state's law is different, so a VA attorney should be consulted if you think the owner may try to enforce the non-compete against you. In Illinois, and most other states, non-competes are hard to enforce and the law is constantly changing as new case law develops. Often you need consideration (money or a new job) for the non-compete to be enforceable, though continued employment may be sufficient consideration in certain states. Also, the noncompete can't be too broad in scope - either geographically or in time or scope of activities. Again, your local attorney should be able to research this for you.
However, there is also the issue of whether the noncompete will be enforced by the owner. Is the owner actually going to sue you if you work for someone else? Will the owner even find out if you are working for someone else if you don't open your own store? Suing someone can be expensive and time consuming. These real life issues come into play. If the owner is nice, perhaps (s)he will give you permission to work for someone else in writing so you don't need to worry about the non-compete.