Friends Don’t Let Friends Sign Non-Competes

Non-compete agreements have been a mainstay of highly compensated upper management and sales professionals for years. As knowledge of revenue producing sales contacts and high level strategies don’t simply leave an employee after termination of employment, the necessity of these agreements is obvious in those positions.   Alarmingly however, these agreements are becoming more and more common for production workers and tradesmen. Whereas non-solicitation (customers and employees), and non-disclosure agreements are warranted and traditionally signed during orientation for even new hourly employees, more and more employers are requiring full non-competes. These non-competes can limit employees from working in their given livelihood, in a specified geographic area, and for a specified time. For experienced production workers and tradesmen, these agreements should not be entered into lightly, and major vetting of the prospective employer should take place before accepting the offer.

Non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements protect an employer from ex-employees soliciting customers and employees, and disclosing trade secrets/procedures upon termination. These are a good idea for an employer to use on all positions in their organization. In contrast however, a properly written non-compete agreement could prevent an employee from working in their given trade, for a specified amount of time, in a specified geographic area.   For example, a painter with years of experience can no longer paint for up to several years without traveling to an area as far as 50 miles. A drywaller can no longer install drywall. A plumber can no longer plumb. A restoration technician can no longer restore. By signing these agreements, an employee’s ability to work in their livelihood and support their family can be brutally affected. If presented with this document, it would be advisable to consult an attorney or perhaps try to negotiate the terms of it.

Additionally, the prospective employer requiring this agreement would need to be scrutinized closely before signing this document. An employer whose idea of hanging on to production workers is bullying them with lawyers and legal documents, is very often the type of employer who makes no effort in creating the type of environment where employees want to stay long term. The type of employer that spends more time with their legal teams than getting to know the people that work for them. The type of company that is full of disgruntle employees that begrudgingly come to work every day out of necessity, instead of enjoying what they do. Whereas these may not always be the case, I would strongly recommend talking to other employees in the company before coming aboard. I would find out if the employees are happy. I would find out about the turnover rate. I would look into the reputation of the company. Look at their building, vehicles, and employee appearances before deciding this is the place you want to be tied to for years to come. Do your due diligence. You need to interview the company as much as the company interviewed you before making an offer. Very often, this is not the type of company you would want to work.

If a new job offer you receive is prefaced with a non-compete, or if suddenly an employer offers you a raise or promotion to sign this agreement, please proceed with caution. Often it is said that these agreements are unenforceable, or that employers never move forward with them. However, let me assure you that these agreements are legal documents. Whether or not they are enforceable will come down to court rulings should an employer proceed in the enforcement. Unless you have $10-20K to hire an attorney, and possibly have the means to support yourself without a job in the meantime, I would not necessarily listen to what is often said. If a former employer decides to be vindictive, very few hourly tradesmen have the resources to fight it, and most employers will offer little to no assistance for new employees wishing to come aboard. If presented with this agreement, proceed with caution.

Rainbow Restoration of Plum does not require non-compete agreements for production employees. We strive to provide the type of environment that no employee will leave for a few cents more per hour. We are always looking for good people who are looking for employment with the premier employer in the restoration industry. Before you sign, give us a call for alternative opportunities.