The culprit: CBS. Considering the fact that journalists are hit by these non-compete agreements, you would think that CBS would want to get it right for all the problems that this creates for their industry.
First, let’s talk about what is wrong with this report. I don’t understand why both Fox and CBS keep saying that a non-compete is six months. It would be great if it were true but why would the state of Massachusetts be fighting to say that non-compete agreements should be no longer than six months. The reason: because a standard non-compete agreement is two years. If you’re going to talk about non-compete agreements, then tell your audience that the standard is two years. It might be nice if you would say that a judge in Indiana recently said that a non-compete agreement for five years is considered reasonable but that won’t happen.
Next, there was the point of negotiating your non-compete agreement. I’ve seen this said before. It’s usually said by lawyers who specialize in writing non-compete agreements. Yes, in order to make themselves feel better, they will be the ones saying that the employee can negotiate their non-compete agreement. The reality is that a company won’t do that. Why should they? From their perspective, they’re telling you that you have to sign this non-compete agreement or be terminated. So you’re going to ask if you can change the terms when they told you this. You don’t have leverage in this situation. It’s nice to say that you can try but the fact is that the company can come back and say no, I want it signed the way it is. So much for non-compete tips.
Of course, you can try your luck at seeing if the employee gets fired but then you can go to another company in the industry who will have the same type of non-compete agreement. Should they negotiate with you. Again, highly unlikely.
Yet what these journalists leave out is that everyone isn’t signing the non-compete agreement. One reason is favoritism. That’s discrimination. Do you think that we would have one report that would say that everyone isn’t signing this agreement. Well, it was in NJ Biz. Not the discrimination part but it is discrimination since everyone isn’t signing the non-compete agreement. The lawyers know this but it doesn’t matter since it won’t stand up in court.
As far as being honest with your potential new employer, sure you can tell them that you’re on a non-compete agreement. Considering that most if all employment applications have the question are you on a non-compete agreement will deter you from lying about this, the answer is that you should be truthful if you want the job. Of course, what will probably happen is that the employer will ask to review your non-compete agreement. Once that is done, the lawyer for the company will examine the non-compete agreement and advise the employer not to hire you because your company can take out an injunction to stop you from working there. In addition, there is a clause in the non-compete agreement that states that your former employer can sue you for lost business. Again, this has been in numerous articles and blogs for non-compete lawyers. Nice research that CBS does for a story.
As far as going to court is concerned, this report left out that the employee will pay over $10,000 in legal fees if they want to fight it. It’s more than likely that if it went to court, the judge will probably rule that two years seems unreasonable, I’ll make it a year, unless you live in Indiana, since five years is considered reasonable.
Oh, about this thing of what happens when you sign a non-compete agreement. Here is the truth. You’re screwed. Your stuck with it and that’s it. Legislation from the government will not save you. For example, there is legislation in Maryland and New Jersey that states that if you’re fired from your employer and forced to collect unemployment benefits, then you’re non-compete agreement would be invalid. That would be going forward not backward. The reason: because according to state law, you can’t break a signed contract because that would be considered unconstitutional.
You would think that CBS would be concerned about getting this right, especially after new reporters who are brothers and sisters who are journalists at Halifax holdings are stuck with a two year non-compete agreement that states that they can be fired at any time for any reason and can’t work for a newspaper, a magazine, a radio station, or a TV station where Halifax has an office. You would think that CBS would be concerned that their fellow journalists who are getting screwed by this would be angry enough to give a report that would show how bad a non-compete agreement would be especially after a journalist group said that non-compete agreements would be bad for the industry since it would create ownership of a story. Obviously, that isn’t the case when CBS did this report.
I guess it’s good that CBS is blacked out from my cable system and others in different parts of the country. Most people didn’t have to see this report and that’s a good thing. It’s no wonder that CBS is on the low end of the ratings behind ABC & NBC. In any case, I won’t help CBS and set up a link to their false report.