Frequently Asked Questions About Non-Compete Agreements | Mann & Elias
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Frequently Asked Questions About Non-Compete Agreements

The Legality of Non-Compete Agreements in California

If you live in California it is unlikely that you will be presented with a non-compete agreement. These types of contracts are designed to prevent employees from working for competitors. But if you do, you might be concerned about what happens if you break a non-compete or fail to sign away your rights to this restrictive covenant.

This article answers your questions and addresses concerns about the state’s treatment of these agreements. You can always turn to our workplace lawyer for more information if you feel that your rights have been violated.

When Is a Non-Compete Agreement Legal?

In Los Angeles, a non-compete agreement is usually legal when business owners are interested in selling their companies. Remember, those non-compete agreements cannot hold you back from applying to other jobs or accepting any forthcoming job offers in California.

Is There an Exception for Non-Compete Agreements?

There are strict employment laws regarding sharing confidential information or trading information once you leave.

In a non-compete agreement, you might see language regarding trade secrets. For something to be considered a trade secret in California, it must:

  • Be of significant economic value to the company or organization and risk the financial well-being if exposed.
  • The owner must be proactive at protecting the information from both employees and third-party individuals that might need it to perform their job.

What Happens If I Sign a Non-Compete Agreement?

For the most part, non-compete agreements are unenforceable in California. Companies will try to work around that to prevent you from leaving the company with ease. Fortunately, federal and state laws safeguard you from such acts. If you work in a different state, be mindful of how this might impact you! If you signed a contractual agreement, give us a call to determine if it’s legal per state laws.

Can I Work for A Competitor If I Sign a Non-Compete?

Generally you cannot work for a competitor if you signed a non-compete. Although non-competes are illegal under the California Business and Professions Code, you are legally bound to it once you sign the agreement. It would be a breach of contract for you to accept your prospective employer’s job offer.

However the circumstances would differ if you have evidence that your employer pressured you or made the job offer contingent on signing. Our skilled non-compete agreement violation attorney would be able to help defend your workers’ rights, protect you from a potential lawsuit if you accept the job, and ensure you get compensated for any losses.

Should I Tell My New Employer About My Non-Compete?

Yes, it would be best to alert your new employer of any concerns you might face due to your non-compete. The contractual obligations will follow you after you leave your previous job.

Can I Get Fired for Refusing to Sign?

No! You cannot get fired for refusing to sign a non-compete agreement, and your employer cannot stop you from going to work for a competitor. That would be considered a form of wrongful termination, and you can take legal action against the employer.

If presented with any contract, we recommend taking some time to review the terms before you sign. Because a non-compete agreement is unlawful in California, it might be harder to recognize. You can always consult with a lawyer should you have questions or need a legal professional for review.

California Employers – Can They Force Employees to Sign?

Absolutely not – if an employer is attempting to force a non-compete agreement, reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible. In these scenarios, new hires are pressured to make a good impression. When they speak up to address their hesitance, employers often retaliate by creating a hostile work environment or withholding wages. We can handle your concerns and prevent a dispute before it happens.

About Mann & Elias

The Law Offices of Mann & Elias is an employment law firm that provides guidance and legal support for individuals facing issues in the workplace. We represent clients at every level of the state and federal court systems. While there are thousands of lawyers to choose from, we strongly believe our success is based on:

  • 50+ years of trial experience
  • Excellent advocacy skills
  • Intense preparation and research
  • Quality care

When your case is in our hands, we hope to minimize stress and concerns associated with work. For dedicated representation with no upfront fees, give us a call at 323-866-9564 or email


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