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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 34857
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I was terminated today, having been employed part time, as

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I was terminated today, having been employed part time, as a licensed massage therapist, with an established work schedule for 11 months. I have been out sick one day. I have been acknowedged as a very good therapist, with the same clients every week, since my employment. I signed, an At-Will-Employment Confidentiality and Arbitration agreement, that the employer did not sign. My termination was without cause, completely unexpected. When asked for the reason, he had no explanation, stating that I could have been more helpful to the clients. I also signed a Covenant Not to Compete document,that states that I in the event that i am terminated, i cannot work in my field for 18months and not within a 10mile radius, and that I agree to pay liquidated damages in the amount of $5,000.00 for what the employer states he would 'experience irreplaceable harm' if this covenant were violated.
Being terminated is bad enough, but being denied a means to earn a living appears immoral, I am a 22 y/o college graduate, who put herself through massage school, who clearly did not read this employment agreement properly. Is there a legal recourse ? Can I file a wrongful termination complaint ? Do I have to do arbitration, particularly since he did not sign the form, there is a space for his signature ?

I am applying to get into graduate school to pursue a career as a physical therapist, being a massage therapist is my living,
While I pursue my dream of becoming a physical therapist...
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 2 years ago.
Is there a legal recourse ? Can I file a wrongful termination complaint ? Do I have to do arbitration, particularly since he did not sign the form, there is a space for his signature ?

A: Confidentiality agreements are enforceable under California law. That should not pose much of a problem for you, because there isn't much that you could reveal other than the customer lists that would injure your former employer. So, you don't contact any customers, who don't contact you first.

Covenants not to compete are absolutely void under California law (Bus. & Prof. Code 16600). So, you can tell your former employer to "stick it where the sun don't shine" (for lack of a more colorful phrase), because no court and no arbitrator will enforce the covenant against you. You can work where and when you wish, and you cannot be forced to pay liquidated damages in any amount -- period, end-o-story.

Re wrongful termination, Labor Code 2922 permits an employer to terminate an employee "at will," unless there is a written contract with a specified termination date of at least one month in the future. Your contract was expressly "at will," so, generally speaking, you have no grounds for a wrongful termination action, because your termination wasn't wrongful -- i.e., the employer didn't need good cause to terminate you.

Since you weren't terminated for misconduct, you can file for unemployment benefits, despite your being a part time employee.

That about covers all the issues. Now that you know that your former employer can't stop you from working, your future should feel a bit brighter.

Best wishes.

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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Clarification, .....the At-Will agreement was not signed by the employer, only by me, would this invalidate this agreement since this was an employment contact ?
Expert:  socrateaser replied 2 years ago.
The employer consents to the agreement by permitting you to work and paying you according to the terms of the agreement. Thus, the agreement is valid (except, of course, for the noncompete provisions).

Hope this helps.


And, if you need to contact me again, please put my user id on the title line of your question (“ToCustomerrdquo;), and the system will send me an alert. Thanks!


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Does this employer have any influence with my being approved/denied unemployment benefits ?
Expert:  socrateaser replied 2 years ago.
If the employer claims that you were terminated for misconduct, then you could possibly have to appear at a hearing with the unemployment appeals judge, where you and your employer each would get an opportunity to try to convince the judge that you are or are not entitled to unemployment benefits.

However, the UI judges are pretty good at telling who is telling the truth, so it's not something I would get too worried about at this point.

Hope this helps.


And, if you need to contact me again, please put my user id on the title line of your question (“ToCustomerrdquo;), and the system will send me an alert. Thanks!

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Since the non compete provision is null and void in this state, could I report this business for unfair employer practice?, I am certain I am not the first employee to have experienced this blatant attempt to intimidate
Expert:  socrateaser replied 2 years ago.
You could report the activity to the Office of the State Attorney General. I don't know what that would accomplish for you, though. You can't get private money damages for a unfair competition complaint, so all you would be doing is hoping to protect others from the noncompete language in the future.

Hope this helps.


And, if you need to contact me again, please put my user id on the title line of your question (“ToCustomerrdquo;), and the system will send me an alert. Thanks!


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No personal gain, injustice is all I am interested in correcting....I have learned from this experience,

Thank you very much
Expert:  socrateaser replied 2 years ago.
You're welcome and good luck.


And, if you need to contact me again, please put my user id on the title line of your question (“ToCustomerrdquo;), and the system will send me an alert. Thanks!



socrateaser, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 34857
Experience: Retired (mostly)
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