Q: Can I beat a non compete agreement, and is it harrasment if they get me fired from a new job and lie to unemployment?
I worked for an old-time photo studio in Branson, Mo. I was fired for going on family vacation, after I gave a 3-month notice. Two weeks before time to go I was told if I went, I would not have a job when I returned home. I had already payed for the house and pre-paid tickets costing over $2000. When I returned home I started putting in applications, I was hired by another company, managing an old-time photo studio. The company was also opening another studio. It was an amazing opportunity for me! About a week before the grand opening of the new studio, my old GM visited me. In front of my employees informed me I was in breach of contract. I had signed a non-compete agreement with them in order to work for their company. They contacted my current employer and had me fired. The company did not want to let me go, however had no choice, due to the non-compete. How is this legal?! There are no trade secretes that anyone getting photos done could not learn them self!
A: You should hire an attorney to review the non-competition agreement and provide you with his or her opinion of its enforceability. I have no opinion on whether it is enforceable, but the answer to your question, if you are asking how the new company could terminate your employment, lies with the doctrine of employment at will. As to the original employer, if you wish to pursue some sort of claim for tortious interference of contract, you have an uphill battle given that the original employer was merely trying to enforce its contract that you entered. Again, I'm not opining on whether a court would enforce or narrow the contract that you entered.
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