What to do if I unknowingly signed a non-compete for a business opportunity 6 years ago?

UPDATED: Jul 11, 2013

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What to do if I unknowingly signed a non-compete for a business opportunity 6 years ago?

I am paid with a 1099. I have been presented another opportunity that I have signed up for but have not become active in. The current business has a 6 month non-compete in which I am not supposed to start another business. This will effect my ability to create a better income for my family. Does the non-compete hold true?

Asked on July 11, 2013 under Business Law, Kansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

This non-compete is valid and enforceable, even though it impacts your ability to "create a better income." The law does not recognize the defense of "unknowingly" signing a non-compete--or, for that matter, any agreement or contract--unless you can show that the employer somehow committed fraud or some other illegal act in your signing it, or else added the non-compete later, to some document you had already signed. Otherwise, the law presumes that people read, understand, and agree to what they sign and holds them accountable to it. The fact you might not, in this case, have fully read or understood what you were signing is, unfortunately, your problem, not the employer's; they can still hold you to the noncompete.

Independent contractors (people paid via 1099s) can be bound by noncompetes, so the fact that you are paid with a 1099 does not help you, either.

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