My employer is insisting that I sign a noncompete agreement, preventing me from working for competitors if I leave. Is there anything I can do to make it less onerous, or do I have to sign whatever my employer hands me?
You certainly aren't alone. Many employers ask employees to sign noncompete agreements promising they will not work for a competitor after leaving their current job.
These agreements are legal in many -- but not all -- states. (One notable foe of the noncompete agreement is California, where such arrangements are prohibited except in connection with the sale of a business.)
Even states that allow these agreements impose some limits on them because the legal system puts a high value on a person's right to earn a living. A noncompete agreement won't be enforced if a court find that it is unreasonable. An agreement may be held unreasonable because it:
If you're asked to sign a noncompete agreement, your best first step may be to negotiate the finer print with your employer. Here are a few pointers for crafting your arguments.