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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 39172
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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could assist me with a employment contract question

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hello, i'm hoping you could assist me with a situation im in. i signed a contract about a year ago for employment as a web editor/developer at a fairly large-brand company in California. Currently i've received a huge opportunity from another company, which i'd like to pursue. My question is what are the possible consequences if i resigned to pursue this new job, can they enforce this, the likelihood of current employer taking legal actions, and if any, what could i be liable for? The 3 year contract has a clause "Discretionary Exercise of Option Periods" that states: "With regard to any optional periods set forth in the main letter agreement to which this exhibit is attached, Company's decision whether or not to exercise such options is discretionary, and may not be exercised by Company for any reason whatsoever, with or without cause, and without liability." FYI, the periods are 3 months, and im currently in period 7/12/11-10/14/11 which was exercise on 6/28/11.

First, under the U.S. Constitution, Amendment 13, no person can be held to labor for another under threat of physical restraint or legal coercion.United States v. Kozminski, 487 U.S. 931 (U.S. 1988). Thus, the employer cannot prevent you from quiting your job. Period.

Second, under Ca Bus. & Prof. Code 16600, an employer cannot prevent an employee from changing employer. Noncompetition clauses in employment contracts are void/unenforceable.

That said, without reading your contract it's hard for me to be definitive -- however, I can't imagine what the employer could to do prevent you from changing jobs, whenever you wish.

Note: If you originally were employed outside of California, then it is possible to avoid enforcement of B & P Code 16600. But, if you were always employed by this employer in California, then the employer cannot prevent you from quiting.

Hope this helps.

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