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Ask Law Educator, Esq. Your Own Question
Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 111657
Experience:  20+ Years of Employment Law Experience
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Good day, My issue is I freelanced small business for

Customer Question

Good day,
My issue is I freelanced for a small business for 7hrs.. the owner wanted me to work there so I did fill out the proper paperwork... one form happened to a non compete agreement. I told her that because I owned my own mobile spa, that I may work in her spa area. She agreed and even wrote that she was aware on the form. fast forward... After that conversation I never worked for her again.... Assuming Im just a freelancer & she would contact me when needed. I never heard from her again, so I went on with finding a new location to be at part time. I found a wonderful small business spa months later that happened to be very close to the "freelance Spa' that owner emailed me and the new spa owner demanding that I quit working there because I signed a non compete agreement or else she'll sue. My question is... Do I need to quit? She was fully aware that I owned a mobile spa & I may do services in her area, also I only "worked" 7 hrs for her, never got a schedule and further was never" terminated" sinece she said I worked there... Can she make me quit? Seattle area
Thanks in advance
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only. What did she actually write on the non-compete form? What specifically does the non-compete form say?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
that I wouldnt work in 5 mile radiance of her slaon for 3 years. But the form should be not valid if she is aware that I am a mobile spa owner and would be working in her area.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.I am afraid that unless she waived the non-compete, if you signed it without her modifying it, then it is going to be binding TO A DEGREE on you (I will address that below). Parties use written contracts because they bind people signing them to what the contract says. Thus, when parties sign a contract they are bound to exactly what is stated in the contract, regardless of what she was aware of or not aware of, and if not then using a written contract would be useless. Also, you doing a mobile business and you having a stationary location are two different things. Now as to the non compete agreement. Under WA law, a non-compete agreement will likely be enforceable in as long as its restrictions are not greater than those reasonably necessary to protect the business or goodwill of the employer. The court looks at the restrictions imposed to determine if those restrictions narrowly protect only the employer's interests. The court also looks at whether or not the agreement is reasonable in length of time and geographic distance. With regards ***** ***** time restriction, the WA courts consider not more than 2 years to be reasonable in time. Your agreement is 3 years, which is not going to be enforceable, but do not get too excited over that, because WA courts are allowed to rewrite invalid clauses to make them comport to the law, so the WA court can change the clause to 2 years. As far as geographic restrictions, they have to determine if the employer does business in the geographic area where you opened your business. Furthermore, it is going to look at what she wrote on the form and if she wrote only that you could continue your mobile business, that would not allow you to open your own salon and the court could enforce that as written. However, if all you did was 7 hours of work, then you can also seek to invalidate the agreement as being unreasonable and designed to limit competition and restrain trade by engaging a competitor for some minor work to prevent them from competing, which is not done to narrowly protect her interests. There are issues with this situation that would arguably allow you to fight the non-compete if she pushes enforcement and you would likely be basis for you to invalidate it completely based on the fact it was a one time inconsequential performance for you and thus not adequate consideration and it was arguably designed to only stop you from working in the area.