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Step-by-Step Guide to Non-Competes and Non-Solicitation for Employees in California

November 22, 2023


Non-compete and non-solicitation agreements are commonly used by employers to protect
their business interests, but they are generally unenforceable in California. If you are an
employee in California and you have been asked to sign a non-compete or non-solicitation
agreement, it’s important to know your rights and take action to protect them. In this blog post,
we’ll outline the step-by-step process for understanding and negotiating non-compete and non-
solicitation agreements for employees in California.

Step 1: Understand the basics of non-compete and non-solicitation agreements.

The first step in understanding and negotiating non-compete and non-solicitation agreements is
to know the basics of these legal concepts. A non-compete agreement is a contract that
restricts an employee’s ability to work for a competing business after their employment ends. A
non-solicitation agreement is a contract that restricts an employee’s ability to solicit or recruit
their former employer’s customers or employees after their employment ends. Both types of
agreements are generally unenforceable in California, but they may be enforceable in certain
limited circumstances.

Step 2: Review the terms of the agreement.

If you have been asked to sign a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement, the next step is to
review the terms of the agreement carefully. Pay close attention to the scope of the restriction,
the duration of the restriction, and the geographic area covered by the restriction. Also,
consider whether the restriction is reasonable and necessary to protect the legitimate business
interests of your employer.

Step 3: Negotiate the terms of the agreement.

If you have any concerns about the terms of the non-compete or non-solicitation agreement,
it’s important to raise them with your employer and try to negotiate a mutually-acceptable
solution. For example, you may be able to negotiate a shorter duration or a smaller geographic
area for the restriction. You may also be able to negotiate compensation or other benefits in
exchange for agreeing to the restriction. It’s important to keep in mind that non-compete and
non-solicitation agreements are typically unenforceable in California, and you may be able to
negotiate more favorable terms for yourself.

Step 4: Seek legal advice.

If you have any questions or concerns about the terms of the non-compete or non-solicitation
agreement, or if you are unable to reach a mutually-acceptable solution with your employer,
it’s important to seek legal advice. An experienced employment attorney can review the terms
of the agreement and advise you on your rights and options under California law. They can also
help you negotiate more favorable terms or advise you on the risks and benefits of agreeing to
the restriction.

Step 5: Consider the impact on your career.

Before agreeing to a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement, it’s important to consider the
impact on your career. Both types of agreements can significantly limit your ability to work in
your field after your employment ends, even though they are generally unenforceable in
California. You may want to consider seeking a referral or recommendation from your employer
before agreeing to the restriction, or negotiate a provision allowing you to work in your field if
you are unable to find comparable employment within a certain timeframe.

Step 6: Seek a modification or waiver of the restriction.

If you have already agreed to a non-compete or non-solicitation agreement and you later
decide that the restriction is too burdensome or unreasonable, you may be able to seek a
modification or waiver of the restriction. To do this, you’ll need to communicate with your
employer and explain your request. If your employer is unwilling or unable to modify or waive
the restriction, you may need to seek legal advice and consider your options for challenging the
restriction in court.


Non-compete and non-solicitation agreements are commonly used by employers to protect
their business interests, but they are generally unenforceable in California. If you are an
employee in California and you have been asked to sign a non-compete or non-solicitation
agreement, it’s important to understand and negotiate the terms of the agreement to protect
your rights and interests. By reviewing the terms of the agreement, negotiating the terms,
seeking legal advice, considering the impact on your career, and seeking a modification or
waiver of the restriction if necessary, you can ensure that you are protected and treated fairly
in the employment context. Don’t hesitate to seek legal help if you have any questions or
concerns about non-compete or non-solicitation agreements.

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    Labor Law PC

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