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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 102584
Experience:  Years of experience in running a medium sized law firm.
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I was wondering if I was let go because of a company

Customer Question

I was wondering if I was let go because of a company Re-Organization and they eliminated my position and I had a non-compete ,do I have the right to go to work for a competitor. I have over 20 years in this field
JA: Because employment law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Washington
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?
Customer: no
JA: Anything else you think the lawyer should know?
Customer: I was told that it had noting to do with my performance I was there number 1 Sales person it was just a re-organization. I did not quit or get fired it was a layoff
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Employment Lawyer about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I am sorry to hear about this situation. Please tell me how long is the non-compete for?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
3 years
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
it was for 3 years but I was laid off for no reason
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. On this website, I do not always get to give good news, and this is one of these times.

1) Unless the contract specifically states that it is void if you are terminated as opposed to simply leaving, then the non-compete applies all the same. There is no statutory law that a non-compete is shortened/voided if the party is terminated.

2) However, the non-compete itself may be deemed too long and shortened. This is because it has to be reasonable. See HERE and scroll down to "Reasonableness is Key."

3) One has really three ways to figure out:

a) Simply engage in the work. The risk is that the old company will sue for the breach under the non-compete, in which case one can use the affirmative defense that the NC was not reasonable. There is a possibility the old company will not even know or care, but, this is a risk. If this goes to Court, the Judge decides what is reasonable.

2) File for a declaratory judgment prior to engaging in this work . This is a type of case where one asks the Court to clarify the rights/duties of parties under the law for a contract. The positive is that this has one be the Plaintiff, so there is less risk of being seen liable as no work has yet been performed. The con is that if one loses and the court upholds the non-compete, one may be liable for the old company's legal fees. So you'd be asking the Court to define "reasonable" here, ahead of time.

3) The final option is negotiation, where one asks the old company to simply lift/lessen the non-compete.

Please note: If I tell you simply what you wish to hear, this would be unfair to you. I need to be honest with you and sometimes this means providing information that is not optimal. Negative ratings are reserved for experts who are rude or for erroneous information. Please rate me on the quality of my information; do not punish me for my honesty.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Please use the SEND or REPLY button to keep chatting, or please RATE when finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating. Kindly rate my answer as one of TOP THREE FACES/STARS and then SUBMIT, as this is how experts get credit for our time. Rating my answer the bottom two faces/stars (or failing to submit the rating) does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith with a positive rating.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
How can they keep you from making a living that you been doing all your life . I did not quit or get fired , I have been doing this for over 20 years
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Being let go due to re-organization is the same as being fired.
Regardless, the non-compete does not differentiate between being fired or leaving voluntarily, unless the verbiage in your NC specifically states so, and I assume it does not.
They cannot keep you from engaging in the work forever. Only what the Court deems "reasonable," per my explanation. The Court may very well strike to one year, etc, depending on the situation. Unfortunately it is on a case by case basis so it is hard to know WHAT the Judge will consider reasonable until/unless the Court becomes involved.
Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
when they did this , their words were : It has noting to do with what you did your were our best Salesman you were the top sales person 9 out of the 14 years I was there . As it turned-out they hired 2 people to replace me
Expert:  Ely replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
That still does not change my answer, I am afraid. Your performance has nothing to do with the application of the NC once you separate from the company.
And they have a right to re-hire others to replace you.
Gentle Reminder: Please, use REPLY or SEND button to keep chatting, or RATE POSITIVELY and SUBMIT your rating when we are finished. You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.