Can I be made to sign an agreement restricting where I can be employed in the future?

UPDATED: Feb 28, 2012

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Can I be made to sign an agreement restricting where I can be employed in the future?

I just decided to quit my job; I gave my boss my 2 weeks notice. However, before I go she asked me to sign a paper saying that I won’t work in similar place of business and won’t give her recipes out (which are not even original or secret recipes). Anyone can come up with them. I do not have any contract with her nor have I sign anything previously. Am I required to sign this document? It is my understanding that my state doesn’t allow these type agreements. Furthermore, I have knowledge that she has never ask any of her previous employees to sign such document.

Asked on February 28, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

California does generally disallow noncompetion agreements. However, nondisclosure or confidentiality agreements are legal and enforceable. Therefore, it would seem that the employer could not restrict you from working in a "similar place of business," but could--IF you signed the agreement (see below)--prevent you from disclosing her recipes.

You can't be forced to sign the agreeement at this point, though nothing stops your employer from asking or from trying to make it worthwhile for you to do so--for example, she could offer you some severance pay if you'd sign a nondisclosure/confidentiailty agreement. But the only leverage she has to get you to sign if  you don't want to at this juncture is she could terminate you immediately if you don't sign, rather than letting you have your two weeks; but if  you're willing to accept that, she can't make you sign.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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