If you live in California and are looking for a job, chances are you`ve heard of non-compete agreements. A non-compete agreement is a legal contract between an employer and employee that prohibits the employee from working for a competitor after leaving their current job. However, unlike most other states in the US, non-compete agreements in California are generally unenforceable.

The state of California has some of the most employee-friendly labor laws in the country. One of these laws is California Business and Professions Code Section 16600, which states that «every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void.»

This means that any agreement that puts a restriction on an employee`s ability to work for a competitor is considered void. This includes non-compete agreements, as well as non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements that restrict an employee from soliciting clients or sharing confidential information after leaving their job.

The only exception to this rule is for very specific situations, such as when a business is sold and the buyer wants to prohibit the seller from competing in the same business for a limited time. In these cases, a non-compete agreement may be enforceable, but only if it is reasonable in scope and duration.

So, if you`re an employee in California and your employer asks you to sign a non-compete agreement, you can refuse to sign it without fear of legal repercussions. However, it`s important to note that even if non-compete agreements are unenforceable in California, employers may still try to include them in their contracts. It`s a good idea to have an attorney review any employment contract before signing it to ensure that you are not agreeing to anything that could limit your future career opportunities.

In summary, non-compete agreements in California are generally unenforceable due to the state`s strong stance on employee rights. If you are presented with a non-compete agreement, it`s important to understand your rights and seek legal advice if necessary.