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Non-compete clause in contract preventing me from working anywhere for two years

From: Karen
Sent on: Thursday, April 4, 2013 3:52 PM
Hi all-

I want to reach out to the developer communities in Seattle to see
what experiences you all have had with non-compete clauses when
contracting and freelancing.  In my case, it came up with my
recruiting company, Chameleon Technologies.

Nine months ago, I unwittingly signed a two-year non compete that, at
the time, I thought would only apply to the company I was contracted
to.  When I asked for specifics about the contract, the recruiter I
was dealing with, Casey, shrugged and said he didn't know the
particulars and that higher ups weren't that day.  I told him it
wasn't standard to have a two year non-compete, but he claimed
ignorance on the matter.

Last week a management/app dev consulting company who's been
assimilating the technical side of this firm harvested all the
developers and offered them jobs.  I turned down the offer because the
money was not great and we all decided I'd keep contracting for my
transition out while I played code janitor.

I told the app dev firm about my two year non-compete and their HR
people came back and said they'd reviewed it and it "should be fine".

Yesterday, I got a call from Chameleon Technologies saying that I'd
violated the non-compete and that I was getting a courtesy call ahead
of being contacted by their attorney.

Today, a lawyer looked my contract over and waded deeper into the
legalese....the gist of it is:

I am prohibited from taking ANY work ANYWHERE in the United States for
the next two years.  Or Chameleon has the right to sue me if they
aren't managing it somehow.

In other words, it's a fairly evil and unfair contract and I'm their
indentured servent.

Has anyone on this list had experience with this kind of situation.
Clearly, I'll have to dig into my pocket for lawyers fees.  But also,
I want to know what the thoughts are from the developer communities
here in Seattle

Feel free to private message me if you don't feel comfortable writing
back to the list.

Karen

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