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, and you have already started working, then an employer cannot fire you solely for refusing to sign a non-compete contract. If you are an at-will employee, then you have little recourse beyond attempting to negotiate the terms.

Under Virginia law, the promise of continued employment is sufficient consideration to create an enforceable non-compete agreement. Your employer does not have to pay you anything extra, although many employers will offer a cash bonus or other incentive as a buy-in for non-compete terms.

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, or see if there are any loopholes under Virginia law to make the non-compete inapplicable to you or legally unenforceable. You should know what you are signing and how it will affect your future employment opportunities.  Be sure to speak with an experienced non-compete lawyer before signing.