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Help, My Employer Threatened Me With a Non-Compete Contract!

Help, My Employer Threatened Me With a Non-Compete Contract!

Are you here because your employer threatened you with a non-compete contract?

Let me guess how this conversation went. You were offered a new job. Or, you have been working at your job for a while now, and your boss walked into your office and plunked it down on the table.

In either scenario, you were probably told something to the effect of, “Sign this non-compete contract, or else.”

Or else, what? Or else, you lose your job.

Can an employer really threaten to fire you in Virginia if you do not sign a non-compete contract?

It depends. If you have an employment contract that guarantees employment for a certain period of time, and you have already started working, then an employer cannot fire you for refusing to sign a non-compete contract. Why? Because you have a guaranteed term of employment. The employer has to honor it.

But if you are an at-will employee – meaning, you do not have a guaranteed period of employment, or you do not have an employment contract – then, unfortunately, you have no choice. The employer can absolutely threaten to fire you for refusing to sign a non-compete contract.

Under Virginia law, the promise of continued employment is enough consideration to enforce a non-compete contract. Your employer does not have to pay you anything extra (though many employers will offer a cash bonus or other incentive as a buy-in for non-compete terms). Basically, the threat is allowed by Virginia law.

All that said, good news: you do not have to go through this situation alone. You can still negotiate the terms of a non-compete before you sign. Plus, you should know what you are signing, and how it will affect your ability to get future employment.

Be sure to speak with an experienced non-compete lawyer before you sign. Your career might depend on it.


Need a referral? For information about finding a deportation lawyer in Virginia, an immigration lawyer in Roanoke, Virginia, or an attorney to handle any other matter, contact the Virginia State Bar Lawyer Referral Service.

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