Can a company force an employee to sign a non-compete agreement?

UPDATED: Dec 20, 2011

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Can a company force an employee to sign a non-compete agreement?

I have a non-compete currently that expires next month. A new company has bought us out and they are offering for me to stay at a much reduced salary. If I refuse to sign the non-compete and they then fire me, I would stand to receive a severance package which is really what I’m after. Can I refuse the non-compete?

Asked on December 20, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you should be able to refuse to sign the non-competition agreement, in which event they can, and presumably would, fire you. Whether you would then be able to get the severance package depends on the terms of the package itself--e.g. the criteria for eligibility. Given how much is at stake, you would be well-advised to consult with an employment law attorney, who can review the terms of the package with you, before doing anything.

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