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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Im an engineer in a Sacramento California office of a company

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I'm an engineer in a Sacramento California office of a company based out of Washington State. My employment contract included a 6 month non compete clause. If I start a competing business here in California, am I open to lawsuit, or am I protected?
Good evening and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I will do everything I can to assist you.

California Business & Professions Code 16600 provides that "every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void."

The limited exceptions to this rule pertain primarily to instances in which a business owner sells their company (the legislature reasoning that in such instances it is fair to prohibit the previous business owner from simply starting back up and competing with the company he or she just sold) and the dissemination of trade secrets. Aside from these exceptions, California staunchly disfavors non-compete agreements and will find them void in virtually all instances.

The fact that your company is located in Washington would not make any difference. California courts will not enforce non-compete agreements, so as long as your competing business is within the state and your non-compete does not fall within one of the exceptions to Business & Professions Code 16600 noted above, an individual in your circumstance cannot be successfully sued for breach of contract, despite what your contract may provide to the contrary.

Please 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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