Some employers will include language in severance packages calling for the employee not to compete against the employer in the future. Such non-compete clauses are rarely enforceable in California because, among other reasons, they would undermine the vital public policy in favor of allowing people freedom to pursue employment.
But, while a non-compete clause in an agreement is unlikely to be upheld by a court, it may be unwise to simply sign the agreement based on the assumption that the employer will not attempt to enforce the clause at some point in the future. Even a losing effort on the employer's part to enforce a non-compete clause could cause you problems. In addition to attorney fees and other stresses associated with litigation, your relationship with your new employer or new clients could be extremely compromised. It is best to have the non-compete clause removed from the severance agreement prior to signing, or at least to have its scope narrowed. You can attempt to accomplish this on your own or you can hire an attorney with experience negotiating settlement agreements regarding this and other important issues.
If you’ve decided to blow the whistle on workplace misconduct or illegal practice, the Law Offices of Jacob Sider will support you through the process. We are able to assist you about possible employer retaliation and educate you about all the whistleblower retaliation laws.