What will happen if I violate a non-compete clause?

9 to 5: Special to The Globe and Mail, Sunday, Sep. 11, 2016

THE QUESTION

After leaving my job as a field sales representative, I was offered a job with the competition. However, my original employment agreement stipulated that I could not work with a competitor for six months after leaving the company. I have a family to feed and am thinking of taking the job. What would be the consequences of violating the non-compete clause?

THE ANSWER

When you took your previous job, you knew of the non-compete clause; then you left the job, willingly, I assume. Before you sign on with the competitor, be sure there isn’t another non-compete clause or other conditions you couldn’t live with in years to come. Is the competitor aware you are considering their offer with a non-compete? Are they willing to hire someone who is violating an employment contract?

When clients tell me they are desperate to accept a position, they often overlook red flags. Yes, it is necessary to feed the family, but making a forced decision can result in hefty legal fees or early termination rather than a salary and bonuses.

Do an assessment of your situation. How long have you been out of work? What is the maximum length of time you can be unemployed? Are you rushing into this offer out of fear? What is the market like for sales reps this upcoming quarter? How seriously have you been job searching? A bird in the hand isn’t always worth two in the bush.

Colleen Clarke, Career specialist and corporate trainer.