OK, so you got a “cease and desist” letter from a lawyer representing your former employer. The letter threatens to sue you if you don’t turn your entire life upside down.
Oh No - You’ve Been Accused of Violating Your Non-Compete
Relax, your former employer is probably bluffing. The fact is, non-compete agreements are really hard to enforce. The trend in the law is against the strict enforcement of non-competes. This is because lawmakers and judges understand that people need to go out and make a living. And overbroad non-compete agreements prevent people from doing just that. How the heck are you supposed to go out and be a contributing member of society, support your family, pay taxes, etc., if you cannot work?
Just Because You’ve Been Accused of Violating Your Non-Compete Does Not Mean the Non-Compete Is Enforceable
In order to be enforceable, a non-compete must be specific and not overly restrictive. The broader, and more restrictive the agreement, the less likely it is to be enforced. In addition, a non-compete agreement must protect the employer’s “legitimate business interests,” like (1) trade secrets or (2) the protection of valuable business relations. Keeping you from working because your former employer is an idiot is not a legitimate business interest.
And, on top of all of that, your non-compete is a contract, so if your former employer hasn’t dotted all of its “i’s” and crossed all of its “t’s”, you could get out on contractual grounds.
In any case, here’s what you should do. Take a deep breath, dig out your old non-compete, and any employment documents thereafter (especially a severance agreement, if you signed one), and call a lawyer. We can help you through this.