Negotiate? Acme Co. Doesn’t Negotiate Our Non-Competes

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

A little story for those of you considering a new job where the employer is asking you to sign a non-compete agreement, and they are giving you the vibe their non-compete is a take-it-or-leave-it sort of deal…

Once, several years ago, I was looking at apartments, and found one I liked. The landlord gave me a lease, which I reviewed. I told her I would like to make a few changes to the lease.

Changes? She looked at me like I was odd. (Well, odder than I am, anyway).

This is the lease, she explained. People can’t change it. A little red flag shimmied up the metaphorical flag pole.

But… I really needed an apartment. The lease terms I didn’t like were no big deal. The lease only lasted one year, and the second year it went to month-to-month. I could give one month’s notice, end the lease, and be done with my obligations.

So I signed the thing. I lived there a few years without incident, and moved on.

Now, back to the non-compete agreement in front of you. Are the terms no big deal? Or, do you think they may be? Are you confident that, if things don’t work out with the employer, you can move on with your career, without incident?

Most importantly, have you discussed with the employer the concerns you have with the non-compete? Are they open to listening to you? Are they open to revising terms of the non-compete that are reasonable to revise?

Or, is their response more like this: “Negotiate? Acme Co. doesn’t negotiate. Sign this thing before you offend us. No sign, no job.”

If that is the vibe you’re getting, I would think long and hard before you sign that non-compete. Chances are, there’s much more at stake than there was with my apartment lease.