I have a job offer from my employer's competitor. I am not bound by any non-compete clauses. Colleagues often plan their departures to occur right after equity vesting dates and then pre-announce this with their managers a few weeks before. If I disclosed my intention today to join the competitor after the next equity vesting date, would my employer be able to terminate my contract immediately, denying me the vesting equity, without any other cause? Is this likely? The relevant space is tech companies in California.

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    Why would you do that?
    – RedSonja
    Jun 15 at 9:27
  • but when is the vesting date? is it once a year ??
    – Fattie
    Jun 15 at 11:29

California is at will. They can fire you instantly. However they tend not to do that- it makes people in the company upset. Its more normal that you give 2 weeks notice, and then they decide to just pay you to sit those 2 weeks if you're leaving to a competitor. But they're not forced to do that, just like you're not forced to give 2 weeks notice. It's just etiquette.

If you're really worried about the vesting date, I wouldn't hand in my notice until the shares are vested. That's the safest path. Try to push the start date at the new company to 2 weeks after vesting date, or give less than 2 weeks notice and accept you'll piss people off at the old job.

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    A lot of employees in CA have employment contracts which overrule at-will. A lot of these contracts have mandated notice periods. Jun 15 at 3:43
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    @zvy68625 A counteroffer is possible, but I wouldn't try that unless you were willing to go through with it. Its a bad way to bluff. You're better off with that from a non-competitor. That way its not a walk off situation (if you were going to a non-competitor they don't generally walk you out, they let you work your notice. For example if you work for Facebook and go to Oracle, they wouldn't walk you out). Jun 15 at 5:28
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    Only about 75% of employed Americans are at-will. If they refuse to show up, they can be sued for breach of contract. For instance, if you breach the notice period, they may be able to sue for damages caused by you suddenly deciding not to work. Jun 15 at 5:52
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    @GabeSechan: "if a clause like that was generally legal, it would be used in pretty much 100% of cases, if for no other reason for jerk bosses to screw people over" Notice periods can cut both ways and are more often in favor of the employee. Coming from a culture with significant worker protection compared to the US, the jerk bosses here predominantly argue for not wanting/needing notice periods, specifically pointing at the US system, because jerk bosses like the ability to fire someone with immediate effect, rather than allowing the employee time to find a new stable source of income.
    – Flater
    Jun 15 at 8:01
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    @GabeSechan: "I also doubt for a non-executive that any court would find a penny in damages beyond not paying them for the notice not worked." Are you saying that in your definition, a non-executive employee would not generate more value to the company than the company pays in wages to that employee? If so, then you don't understand the basic economics at play here. But otherwise, then you must agree that having an unscheduled absent employee can lose the company more revenue than it gains by not paying the employee's wage, which negates your "not a penny in damages" thought.
    – Flater
    Jun 15 at 8:06

Generally speaking, it will not. except you have a reference case. Because generally speaking, if the company terminate your contract, they have to pay. Who would prefer to pay you when you decide to go??

If you really worry about it, then make sure your manager or HR don't know where you leave your current company. You could choose not mention where you go, or you could lie.

If you can not make sure your manager or HR know where you go before the last day you leave your current company, then wait for they know it. The less time they have, more stable your offer it is, and the less chance they would fire you.

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