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Indiana appeals court finds non-compete agreement does not apply

On Aug. 28, an Indiana Court of Appeals judge found that an employee did not violate a non-compete agreement with his former employer. The employee signed the non-compete agreement on Jan. 24, 2008, when he joined the company. The agreement would reportedly prevent him from working in a similar position in a similar field for two years after separation from the company. His employer fired him in October 2009 and allegedly offered his job back to him 10 days later. He returned to his original position without signing a new non-compete agreement.

The employee left his position as a patient advocate for the company again in March 2012 and began working as a patient advocate for another company in the area almost immediately. His former employer filed a lawsuit against him and his new employer for violation of the non-compete agreement.

The court ruled that the employee did not violate the non-compete agreement because the two-year period for that agreement began on the date of his original termination over two years prior to beginning his new job. The former employer characterized the man's return to work after the termination as a revocation and rescission of that termination, but the judge stated in her decision that the employer intended the termination to be permanent.

If an employer requires a non-compete agreement as a condition of employment, the prospective employee may want to consult an attorney prior to signing it. If a person signed a non-compete agreement with a former employer and is considering finding a similar job at another company, that person may want to meet with an attorney. Violating one of these agreements can lead to large lawsuits in some cases, so it is important for employees to know whether they will be doing so before finalizing their decisions.

Source: Indianapolis Business Journal, "Appeals court finds for employee in fight over non-compete pact", Jennifer Nelson, August 29, 2014

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