California Employment Law
California Employment Law Questions Answered by Legal Experts
I was working in NYC when I signed this Agreement.
is there a way for me to send you the pdf?
Thank you again for your reply.You are correct in noting that California law strongly disfavors non-compete agreements and finds them void in virtually all circumstances (See Bus. & Prof. Code 16600). However, the analysis here is more complex because your non-compete was signed in New York and specifically invokes the law of Maryland. The law in each of these two other states permits non-compete agreements provided they are reasonable in duration and geographic scope.If your former employer attempted to sue for breach of contract in the State of California, or if you sued for "declaratory relief" (a preliminary court ruling that something is legal or illegal before an actual controversy materializes), the California court would certainly find in your favor. However, if your employer attempted to enforce a legal action for breach of contract in the state of Maryland or New York, those courts may follow the choice of law provision in your contract and find your non-compete unenforceable if it is reasonable in duration and geographic scope. Whether any judgment could actually be enforced in the state of California (your former employer would have to apply to CA courts to give the judgment full faith and credit) is a different story, but this is murky legal water that you would want to avoid if at all possible.Depending on your financial resources and the importance of ensuring this non-compete is unenforceable, an individual in your circumstance may wish to retain a local attorney to obtain declaratory relief in CA court (a finding that the non-compete is unenforceable) as well as an injunction (a court order) prohibiting your former employer from taking action in any out-of-state court. While a Maryland or New York court would likely apply the choice of law provision in your contract, they would typically recognize a CA injunction and refuse to rule upon the substance of your former employer's out-of-state breach of contract claim.I realize that my answer is not as straight forward as you were hoping, but I do not want to mislead you into thinking that an out-of-state non-compete, signed out-of-state, and with a choice of law provision invoking the law of a foreign state, is automatically null and void if the employee travels to California. While that would be the result if a CA court ruled on the matter, a Maryland or New York court could conceivably reach an alternative conclusion and then, at the very least, you'd have to fight in CA court to prevent the judgment from being recognized in CA.One last point I'll make is that, even if Maryland law were applied, that does not guarantee you'd be in breach, as non-competes are valid only if reasonable in duration and geographic scope. Attempting to enforce a non-compete across the country may very well not be reasonable in terms of geographic scope, and so as a worst case scenario, you could argue that the non-compete is invalid even according to Maryland law.Again, this is a complicated situation with complicated answers and legal solutions. If you wanted to neutralize the threat of an adverse legal judgment, you would probably want to hire an attorney to obtain declaratory relief and an injunction in CA court. For attorney referrals, I like http://www.avvo.comPlease do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes to you and thank you so much for coming to Just Answer.
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