I am a licensed esthetician in the state of California and I have recently began employment at a well known salon. The service i provide there is a very standard service for esthetician's and I was approached by another salon to begin working there as well. I was warned by the manager of the well known salon that I am not to provide this specific service anywhere else and that there will be a penalty if they find out I have done so. I was given a non compete form to sign which I did because I believe this document is not valid in my state. I am wondering, is any business allowed to monopolize my services? I have no plans to steal clients from one salon to another as the salons are not in competitive zones as they are 20 miles apart. How do I protect myself from businesses trying to use fear tactics to keep me from branching out?
Generally speaking, California Business and Professions Code Section 16600 holds that “every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void.” There are select circumstances where a non compete is valid such as when the non-solicit agreement is a narrow restraint, or does not limit an employee’s access to every customer or client but only narrowly limits such access; and when the non-solicit agreement is necessary to protect trade secrets and unfair competition, but only when the non-solicit agreement is “carefully limited”. You should present a copy of the non compete agreement to an attorney who can better review its language to see if its scope of truly enforceable as the language of the agreement will be revealing.
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There is nothing unlawful about an employer demanding your exclusive services, especially where you might go to work for a competitor. After you leave one such business you are free to work at a competitor, but a provision in an agreement between you and your present employer can require you to not work elsewhere doing the same thing. In fact the implicit duty of loyalty you owe to an employer may require you to not engaged in any activity that is not in the best interests of your employer.
Good luck to you.
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No illegal conduct by employer here--you had better be familiar with his/her/its policies before you undertake such a consideration, as you could be terminated for actually doing what you are now contemplating.
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