You can read the post regarding my books in my blog to see what a non-compete agreement is but in one sentence it’s that I’m an at will employee and I can be fired at anytime for any reason and I can’t work in my industry for two years.
To begin with, I met a lot of people and talked to them about non-compete agreements and here are some of the answers that I get.
Occupy Wall Street - I met a union rep that was part of this group. He said that every state has a right to work state and that that would override a non-compete agreement. In fact, I would tell you that he wasn’t even interested in talking to me about this. He said that I didn’t know what I was talking about and that he doubted that non-compete agreements even existed. This coming from a group that goes around protesting about greed in corporate America when the truth is that they’re only concerned about the employees that are part of their union.
Other people say to me that oh, a judge would throw this out of court. We won’t be deprived of a living even though it will cost you over $10,000 in legal fees to go to court.
Then you have other people who say that I can go work for a competitor and nothing will stop me even though the company will ask their lawyer what they think about the non-compete agreement and the lawyer will say don’t hire this person because we can get sued also. Of course, the employer can also take out an injunction to stop you from working there.
But here is the most popular answer that I get when I talk about non-compete agreements and the problems that exist for employees. “I don’t believe you because I have never seen a news report on the news such as The Today Show, GMA, CBS News, Fox or CNN. If what you’re saying is true, then why aren’t they reporting this.
So, lets go back to the teenager in Boston who is working for a summer camp. Let’s go back to the fact that she is probably under the age of 18 years old and has been asked to sign a legal document. Yet the only story is the link below that appeared in the Boston Globe. My question is where is the outrage? How come this isn’t on any news programs?
I think I know the answer. You want to know what it is? I think that the reason that this story isn’t on the news is because the newscasters feel that this isn’t important enough to talk about.
Now before you start disputing this, let’s look at evidence where non-compete agreements are concerned.
- Hairdressers, dog and cat groomers, maids, people who work at sandwich shops such as Subway, and a camp counselor are on a non-compete agreement. All true. Yet why isn’t this on any of the news programs?
- A story in the Wall Street Journal talked about Entrepreneurs who are limited in where they can start a business due to a non-compete agreement. This was worth a two minute segment on Fox and CBS. It was mentioned at the end of the Fox segment that this wasn’t fair to lower level employees. Fox shut down the segment right after that statement.
- Massachusetts has been in a battle for over 10 years since Mitt Romney left office to make non-compete agreements illegal. Not a word on the news programs.
- In Georgia in 2010, historic legislation was passed called Amendment One where judges could no longer throw non-compete agreements out of court. Like other states, they must say that the agreement must be fair to both parties. So if it’s a two year non-compete agreement where the at will employee gets fired, the judge can lower it to a year. This is all supported by the government of Georgia. Not a word on the news shows.
- Legislation - In Maryland and New Jersey, they started legislation that stated that if an employee is fired and forced to collect unemployment benefits, then their non-compete agreement would be invalid. This is only going forward, not retroactive because according to state law, you cannot invalidate a signed contract since that would be unconstitutional. Obnoxious ambulance-chasing non-compete lawyers argued that there is too much at stake for their clients. So the answer is to let people stay on unemployment and take longer to look for jobs that they are unqualified for and collect unemployment for a longer period of time even though they can work but can’t due to their non-compete agreement. Again, Chris Christie won’t discuss this. Again, no news on the morning shows.
- Halifax Holdings - This company, under Warren Stephens, bought 16 editions of the New York Times and told all the reporters that they had to sign a non-compete agreement that stated that they could be fired at any time for any reason and would not be able to work at a newspaper, a magazine, a radio station, or a television station where Halifax had an office. In addition, it stated that the story would be under the ownership of Halifax after the reporter was fired. Again, no story on any of the news programs as to what the ramifications of what this does to Journalism.
Do I need to continue? Sure, someone once told me that reporters are reluctant to write about this because they can’t get employees to come forward about abuse in the workplace such as quotas. Baloney. Any of these shows can get a non-compete lawyer and an employment on their show and address this and everything I have said here. Yet that isn’t being done? Why. Because the story is not important enough for them to cover. Yes, these shows have more important stories to cover than this.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this isn’t such a big deal. If you’re a lower level employee who makes less than $50,000 a year, then you should be sued and have the option of finding $10,000 to spend on legal fees.
I mean, so what if hairdressers, dog groomers, cat groomers, maids, people who work in sandwich shops such as Subway, and of course, the teenager who works at the summer camp. So what if she is under 18 years of age and signed a legal document that states that she can be sued for breaking it by working at another summer camp. Shame on the parents. It’s their problem. The simple answer is don’t sign this even if you are told that you will be fired if you don’t sign it.
Yes, the real answer is that there are more important stories on the Today Show, GMA, CBS News, Fox, and CNN. No need to discuss this. It’s not important enough.
Let’s face it, Erin Andrews left ESPN to go to Fox. No problem there. Katie Couric left the Today Show to go to CBS, then ABC. No problem there. Their contracts expired. Yet Rene Garcia and Arnold Arredondo signed a non-compete agreement with Reliable Fire in 1997 that stated that they can be fired at any time for any reason and they can’t start their own business where Reliable Fire has an office. In 2012, they lost a lawsuit regarding this. 15 years later because non-compete agreements don’t expire unless you’re Erin Andrews and Katie Couric.
So, when you turn on the news in the morning to watch The Today Show, GMA, CBS News, Fox and Friends, CNN, or even CNBC, you can think about all this and see all the stories that are on these shows and see that they are more important than what I’ve mentioned to you today.