Cutting Edge Representation for California Employees

Are you facing challenges related to non-compete or non-solicitation agreements? Are you concerned that a former employer might try to prevent you from working for a competitor? You may need a skilled non-compete attorney in your corner.

California employees have the right to seek employment without interference from past employers. Non-compete agreements are almost always void. If your employer required you to sign a non-compete agreement, you may have claims against them. Our experienced plaintiff-side employment lawyers are here to guide you through the intricate legal landscape and champion your rights.

Are Non-Compete Agreements Enforceable in California?

Under California law, non-compete agreements are generally invalid, unless they fall within one of the statutory exceptions. California has championed a strong public policy against enforcing non-compete agreements, which limit employee mobility and unfairly restrict the labor market to the detriment of employees.

Section 16600 of the California Business & Professions Code prohibits any “restraint” on engaging in a “lawful profession, trade, or business” unless the non-compete is executed as part of the sale of a business, the dissolution of a partnership, or the dissolution of an LLC. In 2023, Governor Newsom signed SB 699, making it illegal for employers to enter into or attempt to enforce noncompete agreements against employees.

SB 699 expands the remedies for employees who are victimized by illegal non-compete agreements. Specifically, employees may bring private actions to enforce SB 699 and obtain injunctive relief, actual damages, and attorney fees and costs.

Before SB 699, Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP was the most authoritative case interpreting California law governing non-compete agreements. There, the court held that non-compete agreements are generally invalid under section 16600 of the California Business and Professions Code, unless they fall within one of the statutory exceptions. The California legislature amended section 16600 in 2023, and the current version of the statute explicitly states that it should be read broadly in accordance with the Edwards decision. The statute also clarifies that any non-compete agreement in an employment context is void unless it satisfies an exception.

Other statutes and cases provide additional guidance on the enforceability of non-compete agreements in California. For example, section 1002.5 of the California Code of Civil Procedure prohibits agreements that restrict an employee from obtaining future employment with the employer, except in certain circumstances. Section 925 of the California Labor Code prohibits employers from requiring employees to agree to provisions that would deprive them of the substantive protection of California law. The case law is generally consistent with the statutory provisions. A non-compete attorney can help you understand which laws might protect your right to work for the employer of your choice.

Are Non-Solicitation Agreements Enforceable in California?

A non-solicitation agreement is a clause or agreement that prohibits your ability to solicit other employees to work with you at another enterprise.

California law generally prohibits covenants not to compete, including employee non-solicitation agreements. However, there are limited exceptions to this rule, such as when the agreement is necessary to protect an employer’s trade secrets. The exact scope of this exception has been subject to significant litigation. However, the general trend has been towards refusing to enforce non-solicitation agreements against former employees.

For instance, in AMN Healthcare, Inc. v. AYA Healthcare Servs., Inc., the court refused to enforce a non-solicitation agreement, citing Business & Professions Code Section 16600. Similarly, in Blue Mountain Enters. v. Owen, the court found that a non-competition and non-solicitation clause in a dealership contract was unenforceable.

Contact Us for Guidance and Support

Navigating non-compete and non-solicitation agreements requires expertise and legal insight. At King & Siegel LLP, our experienced employment attorneys are here to guide you through this process. Whether you’re reviewing an employment contract or being threatened with litigation by a past employer, we provide personalized assistance tailored to your needs. We provide representation for non-compete and non-solicitation agreement issues on a contingency basis, as well as limited hourly-rate engagements.

Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your situation. Let us help you secure a favorable outcome and protect your rights during this critical time.