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A few years ago (a few years after I was hired my my current employer) we were asked to sign a document stating that we would inform our company of the name of the new company we were moving to if we resigned. This was placed in front of us while we were all gathered together for a sales meeting so we didn't feel we had any choice but to sign for fear of losing our jobs. I am wondering if this document is legally binding?

I have heard a few horror stories of people resigning from this company and their offer from the potential company being rescinded and I'm worried they might try to do the same to me when I give my notice. I'd prefer not to tell them, or at least not until after I've begun working for them. My current employer may feel my new prospective employer is a competitor, though I have no non-compete agreement in place.

  • This depends a lot on where you live, but I would contact an employment lawyer first. If you can prove that you signed it under duress, that may give you an out, but its difficult to prove. – Ron Beyer Mar 17 '16 at 20:11
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    Do you have a copy of that document? Does it specify when you would have to inform them ... ? – brhans Mar 17 '16 at 20:19
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    It seems like a bad idea to sign anything like that. – AndreiROM Mar 17 '16 at 20:20
  • legal advice is off topic, but I wouldn't inform them, it's none of their business. If they pressed I still wouldn't tell them but take my time replying non committantly until AFTER I had the job (and even then probably tell them to mind their own business) – Kilisi Mar 17 '16 at 20:48
  • The day after you were compelled to sign this should have been the day you started looking for a new job. Have you been looking? Maybe also look into asking a lawyer about this as well. – Brandin Mar 17 '16 at 23:02
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What were the consequences in the document for failure to comply? If they are not spelled out explicitly in the document then even if it is legally binding there are not consequences for failure to comply. Its possible a judge could order you to comply or face contempt but I find that highly unlikely, as the costs of pursuing you in court over not sharing are going to be prohibitive.

Most likely the consequence will be that you are not eligible to be rehired. It is possible that the penalties will be be spelled out, if so then take your copy of that document to a lawyer and get their opinion on the legality of it. Many times these are still not enforceable.

Some ways you could get around this would be if you inform them that you intend to pursue freelance work, take some time to off to find yourself, or something else cliche that does not provide them with anything they can bargain against, or create problems for you. Then after you depart the company and start your new job, if necessary by the contract, you can inform them that you have accepted a position with the company. I would probably let your new employer know you have to do this, and wait for a few weeks or even a month before sending the letter. I would only do this if you are required to notify them in writing. Once you have been processed out and they have moved on there no reason for them to try and cause problems with your new position.

If you are not required to notify them in writing, it is your word against theirs whether or not you provided that notification. That will not stand up in court should they bring a case against you since the company will have to prove that you failed to comply, if simply telling them the name of the company verbally fulfills the contract they will not win should they try.

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    +1. Most of these silly "contracts" are unenforceable or otherwise invalid. There are typical checks that need to be met and this fails at least 3: coercion / signed under duress, one-way advantage (employee doesn't benefit) and unspecified consequences. But the only way to be sure is to get a lawyer. – Lilienthal Mar 18 '16 at 13:45
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You dont have to tell where are you going to work next.

And if they insist say any of those.

  • Im going to focus on my study/courses by now to improve my career.
  • I need vacation so Im going to travel and know the world.
  • Im going to explore new opportunities in a different field.
  • Im going to be professional WoW player.

And if later you find any of your coworker again just say you just found a new job after you take that time off.

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What would be their recourse? Sue you for not telling them? What are they going to do, sue you for $1 million? "Your honor, the defendant owes us a million bucks because she refuses to tell us the name of her new company (if any)." Or, better yet, try to get the judge to force you to tell them: "Your honor, will you please issue a court order compelling the defendant on pain of contempt to tell us which company she is now employed by."

Somehow I do not see the court receiving such a petition with favor.

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Legal advice is off topic, but I wouldn't inform them, it's none of their business.

If they pressed I still wouldn't tell them but take my time replying non committantly or ignore them until AFTER I had the job and even then I'd probably just ignore them. It's better to ignore than to reply, because anything in writing can work against you.

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    You need to review the meta posts on legal advice. Simple and common legal issues (like non competes which this seems likely to be a version of) that our experts may have the expertise to help with are on topic. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Mar 17 '16 at 21:51

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