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Can a former employer prevent you from getting a job? Why, in America, yes! Now more than ever

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OK, free market defenders, time to stand up and be counted. Do you believe in competition, or not? Aptly named “non-compete clauses” are creeping into standard employment agreements across a host of low-wage industries, according to a story in The New York Times.  One such clause prevented a 19-year-old college kid from getting a job as a camp counselor because she’d worked for another nearby camp the year before. Hair stylists are being shut out of jobs at competing salons. Yoga instructors.  Interns.   My God, interns!


I’ve written extensively on the problem of leverage in the workplace, particularly at the tail end of a recession. Companies do well as the economy improves, enjoying the fruits of greater competition for jobs and higher productivity from slimmed-down workforces.  Firms lay off workers quicker than they hire them.


Meanwhile, workers remain scarred by the trauma of layoffs and tend to put up with more s%%t, even as things start to improve.   Among the s%%t they are apparently putting up with are non-compete agreements that prevent workers from….well, working…even after they leave their current employers.  Ever after they have long since stopped getting paychecks from employers. Even after they receive no benefits from employers. Even if they gained no benefit whatsoever from the non-negotiated agreement in the first place. (How do I know it’s non-negotiated?  Who in their right mind would agree to such a thing?)


Non-competes have been relatively common in high-tech industries for a while. Highly-paid Silicon Valley programmers would sign them to make employers feel better about the risk that a coder might leave, steal some intellectual property, and set up a competing business.  That’s rational enough.  And in an environment of abundant labor, an engineer could actually expect to be paid more in exchange for signing such an agreement, or take less money working at a firm that might not require it. Even in that context, non-competes are as bad as they sound — is it good for America to declare some part of the economy an anti-competition zone? — but reasonable people can disagree on that.


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Don't prospective new employers call former employers for something called "job recommendations"?


btw... if you get wind that you have been badmouthed by a former employer, you may be able to lawyer up

and go after him with "prove it".


Also... especially for young people... a person's Facebook site can really fuck them up if childish stupid shit

and pics are posted on there.  Goes for bad mouthing the firm you are leaving and a prospective employer

even getting on the home page if not full access.


Another point... if a company is trying to get rid of someone they consider particularly bad, they will give glowing

reviews and recommendations to get rid of them.  Have seen that one happen before...

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From what I understand, those non-compete contracts aren't worth much.  If you're a camp counselor, your current employer can't prevent you from working in your field.  At least that's how it was explained to me. NDA's and such are a lot more legit, though.


Basically, you can't contractually sign away your rights etc. In fact, my understanding is that including something like that in a contract will nullify it entirely, even the legal parts.


Perhaps one of our resident legal experts can clarify?

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Non-compete's dont prevent you from working in the field, they are intended to prevent you from going directly to the customer you are working for and offering them a better deal on your own.  IE: If I have my own company but am working for another company as an employee of theirs I am not allowed to go to their customer and offer my business through my company.


I have no issue with them in that fashion. In this one it seems a bit wrong.

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