NJ Non-Compete Agreements: Can My Employer Make Me Sign a Non-Compete Years After I Started the Job?

Yes.  While most people sign an employment agreement with a non-compete provision at the start of their jobs, an employer can require you to sign a non-compete at any time — even years later.  The reasoning comes from basic contract law which requires “valuable consideration” (receiving a benefit in exchange for obligations) for any contract.  In employment law, continued employment is the valuable consideration an employee receives when asked to sign a non-compete months or years after starting the job.  If you refuse to sign, you can be fired.  This bait-and-switch is unfair, but for now it is the law.  Of course, an employee has other avenues to challenge an unfair non-compete such as whether it is too broad in terms of time or geography or whether it deprives you of the ability to earn a living.

April 20, 2011 – Castronovo & McKinney, LLC – Paul Castronovo