You can't work for us, but you can't work for them either!

This year has greeted me with an enthusiasm normally reserved for a sex starved sheep lover upon spying a lamb dressed in black lace. I have been out of work for months. My efforts at finding a job have drawn few responses. But finally, now that the economy is stumbling towards recovery, a contract company has contacted me about doing some work for [Insert name of incredibly huge megacorporation here].

The problem is that at a previous contract company I worked with, hmm… let’s call them, I had a noncompete agreement promising not to do work at [Name of Giant megacorporation, you have their products in your house right now] for a full year. Well, that’s fair enough if I had quit and run off to join one of their competitors, but I didn’t. laid me off. Naturally, I assumed that this meant the noncompete agreement was null and void, but when the new contracting company contacted them, the evil head of claimed it was still a valid agreement. Essentially he said, Blackclaw you can’t work for us and you can’t work for them either.

So basically I guess I’m not suppose to earn a living doing what I know how to do because the [Huge megacorporation, I think they helped NASA fake the moon landings] is the largest employer in the area. Almost all of the contracts in my specialty come from them. It’s this kind of corporate bullshit that will, no doubt, one day drive me to communism. Sure we’re all be worthless slaves to the state, but I’ll be able to find meaningless unfulfilling work anywhere, even if it’s not needed! Well, at least until the system collapses and I end up selling myself for crack in Thailand, but I digress.

I think I have several remedies agaist I know the previous owner who still has major influence in the company, so I may be able to get him to lean on the foolish person who is insisting I not be able to make a living. Failing that I suspect any number of vicious lawyers would be willing to jump at the chance to help me sue so hard that it will be reduced to selling pencils on street corners (graphite not included). And yes, I want vicious mean spirited lawyers. I want lawyers so mean that they aren’t allowed to be out in public. I want lawyers that eat small foolish corporations for breakfast.

In all seriousness, I just want to know what’s going to happen with my life. I don’t really want to engage in a legal battle. But because of one constipated asshole who thinks he can gain a competitve edge by somehow keeping me poor I’m all stressed out. I suspect by the end of Monday after a phone call from the former owner and a lawyer, the foolish leader of will change his mind and spend the rest of the week hiding under his desk, but damn it! I don’t need this!

I’d consult your local department of Labor representative. In my experience yellow-dog contracts like that aren’t enforceable. Here in Virginia I was forced to sign one when I started a new job a few years ago. I was told that if I didn’t sign it I couldn’t start. (This was AFTER I’d quit the previous job!). So I signed it and ran it past my lawyer. He told me it wouldn’t matter a bit and he could break it for me in two minutes if push come to shove.

So I’d see if it’s at all enforceable. Or hell, go work at your new gig anyway.

Or just form an S-Corp or something. Have the corporation accept the gig and assign it to you. There are a million ways around this sort of crap.


Are you in a right to work state? Something similiar happened in Dallas, Texas to a news anchor. He quite working for channel 8 and wanted to go work for channel 11. His contract with channel 8 had a no competition clause in it as well. He took channel 8 to court and they ruled that channel 8 couldn’t prevent him from making a living. If they didn’t want him to compete he had to at least pay him. I think the anchors name was Tracy Rowlett or something.


If they won’t resolve this I think you should go this route. I find it very unfair that you were fired and then they want to prevent you from working.


I’m with Jonathan Chance. There are few no-compete clauses that can be enforceable, and they generally involve upper management quitting to start their own competing companies. Every no-compete aimed at a technician or analyst that I have seen can almost be simply ignored, and can certainly be rather easily destroyed by a lawyer–especially if they threw you out and you did not quit.

Your problem is that Mega-corp is not going to threaten you. (Their internal legal fees would make that way too costly.) Mega-corp is going to threaten your prospective employer–who may realize that it’s bullshit, but who will figure that it is easier to find another tech than spend even an internal dime defending their position.

I would certainly recommend a rabid, pit-bull lawyer. Don’t go for cash; just demand a letter “freeing” you from the no-compete.

What, and have to pay said lawyer out of pocket while also enduring the aggravation of this situation? I’d sue the bastards for huge piles of money AND the voiding of existing non-compete contracts AND the elimination of such contracts in all future dealings. Probably won’t get all of that, but I would not gladly settle for just a letter.

It seems to me that if someone signs a non-compete agreement, they should stick by it. If a company wants to keep an employee from weaseling out of an agreement, why is the company the bad guy?

No, the legal action would come from my previous employer ( against the new contracting firm that wants to use me for some work that is available at Megacorp. Megacorp could care less about the minor squabblings between the mercenary firms it employs. The new contracting firm basically won’t let me work for them until the matter is settled. That’s understandable since they have no reason to want to get involved in a legal dispute. So it comes down to me threatening to sue for not allowing me to earn a living.

I’m not that worried about my legal ground and I’m fairly certain that will back down after one phone call from a lawyer. I’m just aggrevated that everything has to be done so damn difficult.

Normally I’d agree with you on this, but the smaller contract company let blackclaw go, blackclaw did not quit. Therefore the company should have no stance in a non-compete.

blackclaw- is megacorp balking because of the non-compete or is just calling up and busting your balls? does megacorp know that you were let go rather than you quiting or mutual disassociation?

I feel that I have stuck by the agreement. I basically agreed to not quit and run off to join the competition. The company I had the agreement however, laid me off. I feel that in doing so they have nulled the agreement. I was not fired. I was an employee in good standing. The company ran into financial difficulties and told me that my services were no longer needed. If my services are no longer needed, I see no reason why I can’t seek employment elsewhere. I’m not stealing the company’s business because the position I agreed not to compete against no longer exists.

The new contracting company (Let’s call them wants validation from that I’m not beholden to a noncompete clause. refuses to admit that I am not bound by such an agreement. Megacorp is unaware and uncaring of the squabble. They have a task that they want done and they want to send someone over to do it. If it’s me or a walruss with pink eye does not concern them as long as the task gets done. Megacorp has no interest in letting ScrewYouBlackclaw get the business, although ScrewYouBlackclaw probably has false hope that it can change Megacorp’s mind - But it’s like an ant trying to get the attention of an elephant.

sounds like a simple call from a lawyer should do it.


*Originally posted by slowhand53 *
Normally I’d agree with you on this, but the smaller contract company let blackclaw go, blackclaw did not quit. Therefore the company should have no stance in a non-compete.


If the contract said that it didn’t apply in the case of a firing, then you are right. But I don’t see any reason to assume that it said that.

Perhaps this site will help. My connection is running like a dog and I can’t search the "Get answers from MEL.

Good luck.

My father signed one, and then got offered a great job. He knew these contracts were illegal in PA, but he signed it anyways, knowing he earned his bonus.

Well, the company sued him and the competitor, my dad had to give up the dream job-it wasn’t certain that the new company could back off the lawsuit, and if they didn’t, he wouldn’t have either job.

(the contract said can’t work for a competitor in a 25 mile radius).

So my dad had to kiss ass, eat crow and take his old job back. I’m probably more bitter about it than him. I swear, I hate the whole corporate system. Stupid asshole bastard morons.

He gave up his bonus this past year, and refused to sign. sigh I feel so horrible for him. It’s not fair-my dad works harder than anyone else there, the superviser is a weasel-and my dad gets screwed. Dammit, I’m gonna start crying.

However. Blackclaw would probably like to eat and keep up the house and car payments in the intervening five years before such a settlement was reached. The letter gets him a job, now.

It is also unlikely that he would be able to get big bucks out of a company for what is, after all, a fairly common, if less than ethical occurrence in the business world. Few lawyers would bother taking such a case on contingency knowing that 10% (or 50%) of the $1.00 token payment was not going to cover their expenses.

(And I did mean ScrewBlackclaw Corp., not Mega-corp in my first post.)

I’m wondering, due to a situation I’m currently in, how this turned out.

What state are you in, thinksnow?

I’m familiar with this situation, and I’ve have to say it doesn’t look good for you, blackclaw. I was working for a shipyard in Maine and saw several co-workers successfully blocked from taking another job because of the same contract. I hated the job and actually ended up taking a job at a shipyard in San Diego, simply because it was the only thing I could find that was offered by a Canadian contract firm. They were the only firm that wasn’t employing contract designers at this shipyard.
The forming your own corporation idea may be valid, though, but I don’t know anything about corporations. It may be easier said than done.

BlackClaw, what state are you in?

You definitely need to talk to an attorney Blackclaw. Whether or not the clause is binding will depend on the state you live in and the specifics of the clause.

I know you started this thread to blow off steam and didn’t come here to ask for legal advice, but since people are giving it I want to urge you to talk to an attorney in your state before you take any action.

Just trying to give some friendly advice.