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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Contents

Q:

Can my current employer fire me for asking for my non compete agreement to ensure that I'm not violating it's terms?: I'm looking at new jobs, and have a good lead at a new company in NC, doing the same line of work, however I want to make sure I'm not violating my non compete agreement (since I'm pretty sure if it's in another state, I'm okay).

My current company is very small, and never gave me a copy of it originally, but I'm afraid if I ask them for the agreement, they'll fire me because they think I'm going to leave. Or make my job harder.

Would they legally be able to do that, or do they have to provide me with the information if I ask for it?

A:

John’s answer: There is no legal requirement that an employer provide you a copy of your noncompete agreement upon your request. Should you ask however, and the employer refuses to give you a copy, they would be hard-pressed to attempt to enforce an agreement which they have refused to disclose to you. Typically, the enforceability of a noncompete agreement channel is determined by three factors: geographic restricted, the length of time or duration of the noncompete, and the type of activity involved. I can almost assure you that simply by working for a competitor in another state would not generally violate a valid noncompete. If the noncompete restricts you from contacting former clients however, even if you were in North Carolina it would seem that the agreement could restrict you from soliciting your former clients as customers of your new employer. Therefore, if you don't feel comfortable asking for a copy of the agreement, simply stay away from former clients for period of one year and you should be okay. If the employer feels that you are violating an agreement, typically they will send you a letter along with a copy of your agreement indicating your restrictions and reminding you to observe them. If you still are unsure, it might be useful to contact an attorney to review the situation with you.

Q:

Can an employer forbid a male employee from wearing an earring if female employees are permitted to do so?: I was just hired this week by a large manufacturing company, but I was not given an employee handbook/manual, and the HR Dept said nothing about my earring during interview process etc. now my supervisor is now saying that company policy is that men can not wear earrings, although females can wear them. I do not work in an environment where it would be a safety hazard (I sit at a desk and deal with the public -- but I am not on the manufacturing floor), and it is a small discrete hoop worn tight to the lobe (not a "gauge" or even an obvious piece of jewelry). Do I really have to take this out? I was hired with the earring in place, and feel it's a bit "after the fact" for them to now tell me I can't wear it (especially since I received no guidelines in writing about dress code policy).

A:

John’s answer: While normally, employers must treat male and female workers fairly equally to the degree that is possible, it may be technically improper to allow women to wear earrings while denying men the same rights. Even with that said, it really often depends on the type of business as well as the business atmosphere the employer intends to create. If by allowing men to wear earrings like women, the employer can show that it somehow is damaging to its business image, the employer can make an argument that this rule is a "BFOQ" which is a bona fide occupational qualification. Ultimately, because you do not suffer any damages by not being allowed to wear the earring, it may be very difficult to bring an action. That is not to say however that you cannot file a charge of discrimination at the EEOC or the Maryland commission on civil Rights. The charge at the EEOC must be filed within 300 days of the date of discrimination while the statute of limitations at the MCCR is 180 days.

Q:

Can I sue my employer?: I was hired by this employer and after I accepted the offer and quit my job they discovered that my relative work there a fact that I already disclosed in my job application, they wrote me a letter apologizing saying it is their mistake they missed it but they have to let me go so I don't have a job no health insurance soon will not be able to pay my mortgage please advice thank you

A:

John’s answer: Unfortunately,, it would appear that you have no legal actions available to you. You are an "At Will" employee serving at the will of the employer and they can fire you for a bad reason or no reason at all. If they have a rule that the company will not employ people who are relatives of others, that rule typically is not considered to be discriminatory or unlawful. If there is any good news, it is that you can apply for and will be eligible for unemployment and although you are eligible for COBRA, which is keeping insurance if you pay the employer's share, most people do better by obtaining insurance one the health care exchange. Best of luck to you.