Switching jobs and employers when you have signed a non-compete agreement with your former or present employer may present unique challenges that require careful consideration in light of the specific circumstances of your industry, the company you are working for and the company you are planning to switch to. Even though it has been well established that generally, non-compete agreements are invalid and unenforceable in California, you must take into account a number of other factors, one of the which is trade secrets and confidentiality agreements you might be bound by.
Among other things, it might be well worth making sure that the reason the new employer wants you is not in order for you to tell them all about the proprietary information or software of your previous employer, and not in order for you to actively try to recruit the your former employer’s customers to do business with your subsequent employer.
In some cases, especially when you have a close relationship with your employer, it might be worth having a candid conversation about your employment plans and trying to figure out together and collaboratively how to ensure that your former employer’s interests are protected, while your rights are not violated as well.
Despite the fact that most employers, especially larger companies, know that non-compete agreements are unenforceable, they routinely continue to include them in their employment contracts and handbooks as a “deterrent” – to discourage an employee from engaging in an activity that would put the company’s success and profits at risk.