Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Help Me Howard: Non Compete
If you lost your job tomorrow you would hope you could find another one soon, but what if the company you left blocked you from taking another job. Is that legal? It's why one unemployed woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- If you live in a condo, you probably have a property manager. In other words, you have a Diane Mollins in charge.
Diane Mollins: "It means I run condominiums. I run the staff. I run the financial end. I do budgets."
Diane works for a very large company with a fine reputation and not to brag, but Diane says she has built a pretty good reputation as well.
Diane Mollins: "I am very experienced. I am very good at what I do. I have letters of recommendations."
Now, before you go to work for some companies you have to sign what's called a non-compete clause, Diane did.
Howard Finkelstein: "Many employers spend money training their people in television, they spend money promoting their people. In some businesses the employees learn trade secrets about their company, the non compete clause stops those employees from taking those assests to a competitor for a certain period of time."
Diane was happy, she loved the company, but a year ago the contract for the building she managed ended and she was laid off.
Diane Mollins: "It's devastating. It's horrible."
But, she told herself with her years of experience she would be able to find another job.
Diane Mollins: "There are two companies. There are two major competitors who from day one wanted to hire me and they won't hire me because of the non compete."
Her non compete contract says she cannot manage a property in South Florida or in most of the United States for two years, making no sense to Diane.
Diane Mollins: "I don't hold any company secrets. I don't have trade secrets. I don't have intellectual property. I am not privy to that kind of stuff. I manage a building."
But now she is not managing anything. Everytime she goes for a job the non compete clause comes up while the savings she built over the years goes down.
Diane Mollins: "I have blown through everything. My savings, my whatever I have. I have blown through it. Last week I had to send out a letter to friends, as humiliating as it was because I needed money."
Here is a woman who wants to work. Needs to work, but signed a piece of paper that says she can't work in the only business she knows.
Patrick Fraser: "You signed the non compete."
Diane Mollins: "You are right.I did sign it and was not aware that it was so in-depth."
Well Diane is not a lawyer, Howard is, so Mr. Finkelstein can a non-compete clause keep you out of your business for two years even if you were laid off from the company.
Howard Finkelstein: "Diane's employer may be able to block her from taking a similar job, but probably not for two years and probably can't stop her from working outside South Florida, but be realistic, you would have to go to court to fight a non compete clause. Unemployed people don't have have the money to do that and that's why non competes usually hold up."
When I talked to the Continental Group I found out why they have a good reputation. A spokesman told me they didn't have any property manager jobs, but they had other openings that Diane might qualify for. Then great news for Diane, a few days later a property managers job opened up. A spokesman told us our company has weathered this difficult economic storm better than most. In this particular case, we are happy our company was able to rehire Diane Mollins to manage one of our premier properties.
Diane Mollins: "I am so happy."
She is now back at work doing the job she loves with the company she admires.
Diane Mollins: "They are an excellent company. They have an excellent product and they are the best in the business, and I am proud to work for them and I am happy to work for them."
Glad it all worked out for Diane. A couple of states have thrown out non-compete clauses, but most states like Florida allow them. In fact Howard and I have non-compete clauses, but we don't kid ourselves. If we left, no one would ever want to hire us. Unless the circus is coming to town.
Feel like you are getting jobbed? Need someone to work it out? Contact us. Our job is simple. Employ the law or luck because we are here to help.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD: