I worked for a company that ran out of money and let me go. The owner said that he would see if I could work for a company he is trying to merge with and asked me to agree write the following after I was laid off:
"I agree not to take a direct consulting or employment offer from ------, and would work and get paid through you."
Now the other company doesn't want to work with me if they have to go through my former employer, they're ready to hire me but don't want to deal with my original company. I don't want to betray my former employer, but I also need a pay check.