Good morning Edgar,
I'm Doug, and I'm sorry to hear of the confusion. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. Because Marsha does not answer CA Employment Law questions, I will be able to assist you. I am a licensed CA attorney with nearly 3 decades of employment law experience.
California is a very progressive and liberal state in so much as employee rights are concerned---and becoming equally employer-unfriendly, unlike any other state in the country. I am sorry to have to tell you, but under CA employment/labor laws, non-compete agreements between an employer and their employees is illegal and unenforceable
. Here is the language of the law as set forth in the CA Business and Professions Code:§16600. Except as provided in this chapter, every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void.
CA law is even moving toward not enforcing employer=/employee agreements that prevent a departing employee from seeking to hire away from your company other employees. While a few
CA judges do still enforce non-solicitation agreements---preventing the departing employee from soliciting
your employees to leave and go elsewhere-----any attempt to prevent the departed employee (or their new company) from hiring
one of your employees is unlawful and will not be enforced. And the reality is that most CA judges are no longer enforcing the anti-solicitation agreements either.
You may demand that your employees agree not to utilize trade secret information of the company, including client lists and contact information. Under California law, a trade secret is defined as information whose value is at least partly derived from being not generally known.
So long as any part of the agreement that you are asking to be signed by the employee is unlawful---because it seeks to restrict their employment rights contrary to the state law----then you may not discipline them for not signing such an agreement.
And if you do discipline them, they would have a viable legal claim against your company.
Also, if they do resign from your company, the law allows them to go to a competing company of yours, and take a position as a new employee there. Here is a link to an article that discusses these CA laws:
I wish you the best in 2013.
I understand that you may be disappointed by the Answer you received, as it was not particularly favorable to your situation. Had I been able to provide an Answer which might have given you a successful legal outcome, it would have been my pleasure to do so.
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