Non-Compete Agreements

Non-Compete Lawyers in Moorestown, NJ

New Jersey Firm Eager to Fight for Your Rights

We would like to see non-compete agreements outlawed—or at a minimum severely restricted— in the State of New Jersey. We make that statement because we have seen over the years the harm that non-compete agreements can do to employees in this State who have been tied down to a non-compete agreement.

A non-compete agreement can turn an employee into an indentured servant. To begin with, non-compete agreements are often so broadly written that they will bar an employee who has signed one from finding a job – for a year, two, or even three -- in the only field in which he has ever worked. The result: unemployment or underemployment for long periods of time.

Moreover, if an employee (call him “John Smith”) leaves a job where he has signed a non-compete agreement to accept a job with a new company -- one that may or may not be “off-limits” under by the terms of his non-compete agreement -- Smith may well be entering into the “lose-lose” zone. His old employer may well decide to take Smith [and often his new company] to court to block him from taking the new job. At that point, a number of bad things can happen – the worst of which is that the new company may decide it wants no part of a lawsuit and fires Smith, leaving him without his old job or the new one and still saddled with a non-compete agreement.

Because of the perils of non-compete agreements, it is always far better to consult with an attorney before making your move, rather than after. We have often found that, upon close examination, a non-compete agreement may not be as airtight as it might first seem. We have also at times been able to negotiate an employee out of his non-compete agreement.

As the partners at Schall & Barasch, we have been involved in some of the most cutting-edge litigation in the State of New Jersey involving non-compete agreements, including the case of Maw v. Advanced Clinical Communications, Inc, which centered on the issue of an employee’s right of refuse to sign a non-compete agreement without the fear of losing her job.

If you have been questions or concerns about how to handle a non-compete agreement you have signed, please contact our firm by completing the on-line Questionnaire accessible on every page of our website.

Do’s and Don’ts of Leaving Your Current Employer Where You’ve Signed a Non-Compete Agreement:

  1. Before even making the decision to seek new employment, consult with an attorney and have him or her review your non-compete agreement in order to determine its precise limitations. The language of a non-compete agreement is critical, and, at times, a poorly drafted non-compete can provide you with loophole through which you can escape. Moreover, an attorney can assist you in devising an exit strategy that maximizes your chances of moving on without getting dragged into litigation by your former employer. We’ve been contacted too often only after-the-fact, and after mistakes have been made, by far too many employees who, without consulting with an attorney, have joined new employers only to receive either a letter threatening litigation, or a lawsuit itself, demanding immediate surrender of the new employment. By that point, devising a successful plan of action becomes much more difficult, if not impossible.
  2. In the months leading up to the date you plan on leaving employment, do NOT copy or take any confidential or proprietary company documents such as customer lists, pricing information, sales strategy, etc. If your case winds up in court, and there is any evidence that you’ve done any of this, the judge will automatically suspect that you are “up to no good” and inevitably rule against you.
  3. In the months leading up to the date you plan on leaving employment, do NOT email, download, or copy any documents, notes, customer lists, and, for that matter, anything, from the company’s computers to your home computer. The first thing your former employer will do is hire a forensic computer expert to examine your company computer, and, no matter how “smart” you think you’ve been, they will learn exactly what you’ve done.
  4. Likewise, during the months prior to your planned exit, do NOT contact any of your clients or customers to let them know of your plans to leave. If you do so, your employer will use such evidence to attempt to convince the court that you were planning to steal its business, even if your intentions were completely innocent. Once you’ve left, there may be ways to contact former clients or customers that don’t run afoul of your non-compete agreement.
  5. Think about the possibility of negotiating with your employer the terms of your departure, including any modifications to the non-compete, before you leave. While there may be good reasons why you don’t want to reveal your intention to leave to your employer, if you’ve made up your mind that you are going to do so, it may make sense to try to negotiate with your employer before you jump ship.
  6. Give your employer as much advance notice of possible of your intended last day of work. Leaving with little notice may just be the “last straw” that provokes your employer to go after you to enforce the terms of the non-compete agreement.

Do’s and Don’ts of Joining Your New Employer In Light of Your Existing Non-Compete Agreement:

  1. It is critical that you provide your prospective new employer with a copy of your non-compete agreement so that they can review it and make sure that they are comfortable offering you a position in light of the non-compete agreement. If you are not completely open with your new employer about the existence and terms of your non-compete agreement, it will not serve you well when they find out about it via a nasty letter or lawsuit from your prior employer demanding that your new employer immediately fire you or face getting dragged into litigation.
  2. Before accepting the job with a new employer, try to obtain their agreement that they will stand by you in the event that your former employer attempts to enforce the non-compete agreement against you. You want to try to get your new employer’s agreement that, in the event the threatening letter or lawsuit is forthcoming, your new employer will not terminate your employment but will instead assist you in defending against the matter, including, if possible, paying your legal fees in the event you are sued.
  3. Keep in mind that, typically, if your former employer decides it wants to enforce your non-compete agreement, it will sue not just you but also your new employer. So, there is no way to keep your new employer out of the fray, and therefore you want to enlist it as your ally before the fight begins.

If you have questions or concerns about how to handle a non-compete agreement you have signed, please contact our firm by filling out our online form.

What Happens If I Violate My Non-Compete?

Your former employer may file a lawsuit against both you and your current employer. They may either seek monetary damages for any losses they allegedly suffered, or they will seek an injunction that prevents you from continuing the new job. There is also the possibility that they will seek both monetary damages and injunctive relief or do nothing at all. It is all at the discretion of your employer and what course of action they choose to take.

The best option for you personally is to not sign a non-compete agreement at all. If you have already signed one and you think you may be violating it or simply want to know your options, you need a non-compete lawyer familiar with employment law.

How Do I Start a New Job If I Have a Non-Compete Agreement?

Inform your prospective new employer. Provide your prospective employer with a copy of your New Jersey non-compete agreement. Allow them to review it. They must be comfortable to offer you a new position in light of your non-compete agreement. Be open with them. This will help you in the long run. You do not want your new employer to find out about your non-compete agreement via a letter or lawsuit from your former employer. They might fire you immediately rather than face litigation.

After informing your new employer about your non-compete agreement, speak about cooperation. You want an agreement that they will stand by you in the event your former employer sues you, they will not terminate you. Rather, they will defend you and possibly pay your legal fees if you are sued.

Keep in mind that if your employer does enforce your non-compete agreement, they will sue not only you, but your new employer. There is no way to keep your new employer out of the litigation. You want to enlist them as an ally before the fight begins.

What Is a Restrictive Covenant?

A restrictive covenant is any type of agreement that limits an employee’s actions. There are many types of restrictive covenants. A non-compete agreement is one type of restrictive covenant. Restrictive covenants are only enforceable in NJ if they meet employment law standards. Speak to an experienced employment law attorney if you are unsure if your restrictive covenant applies to you. A non-compete attorney at Schall and Barasch LLC will evaluate your restrictive covenant and can help negotiate the terms with your employer.

How To Get Out of a Non-Compete Agreement

As the partners at Schall & Barasch LLC, we have been involved in some of the most cutting-edge litigation in the State of New Jersey involving non-compete agreements, including the case of Maw v. Advanced Clinical Communications, Inc, which centered on the issue of an employee’s right to refuse to sign a non-compete agreement without the fear of losing her job.

Because of the perils of non-compete agreements, it is always far better to consult with an attorney before making your move, rather than after. We have often found that, upon close examination, a non-compete agreement may not be as airtight as it might first seem. We have even been able to negotiate employees out of their non-compete agreement altogether.

How New Jersey Non-Compete Attorneys, Schall & Barasch LLC Can Help

It is always better to speak with an attorney before leaving your job, rather than after. We always find that after examining a non-compete agreement, it is less airtight than clients originally thought. Sometimes, we can negotiate an employee out of their non-compete agreements.

If you have questions or concerns about how to handle a non-compete agreement you have signed, please contact our firm by filling out our online form.

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    “Richard and the team knew exactly how to get me out of my career-hindering noncompete agreement. He made the process as smooth as it could be.”

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