Are employment agreements enforceable?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Are employment agreements enforceable?

I was forced to sign an employment agreement with my former employer 6 years after I was hired. I left the company in January of this year. I’m a production manager and a former employee came to me looking for work. Is the employment agreement valid and can my former employer keep me from hiring this person?

Asked on May 2, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, an agrement to not hire other or former employers from your former employer (commonly called a "non-solicitation agreement" or a "non-solicitation clause" in a larger agreement) is 100% enforceable if you quit or resigned. So if you left the job voluntarily, you cannot hire this former employee if the agreement says you can't; if you violate it, you can be sued.
That you signed the agreement 6 years after hiring is irrelevant; you can be required to sign an agreement at any time during employment.
Typically, however, if you were laid off, downsized, or fired other than for cause (i.e. not fired for doing something obviously improper, like stealing from the company, violating company policy or manager instructions in a flagrant way, etc.) the agreement cannot be enforced against you, since in that case, the company took away the thing--employment--it was offering you in exchange for the agreement.

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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