These questions and answers come from my conversation from the reporter about what is happening with Haggen.
Is a noncompete enforceable in California? No.
What if the employee is an executive? It does not matter. California prohibits noncompete restrictions by statute and as a matter of public policy. This rule applies the same whether you are stocking product on the shelves, are an executive, or are the CEO. Non-compete restrictions are invalid.
Is there a remedy for an illegal noncompete? Yes, there can be. There have been million dollar judgments because a company tried to enforce a noncompete (Haggen) or another company refused to hire an employee because they signed a noncompete with someone else (Vons, Albertsons, Ralphs).
The public policy is similar to that if a company refused to hire because of race. An employee could sue for lost wages, emotional distress damages, and punitive damages.
Additionally, California labor law makes the knowing use of illegal contract terms a criminal act. Haggen and its executives employing the noncompete terms could face criminal action.
California also provides for triple damages if a former employer makes misrepresentations intended to prevent a former employee from getting a new job. If Haggen tells a prospective employer such as Vons, Albertsons or Ralphs that it cannot hire someone because of a noncompete, the former employee may be able to sue Haggen for lost wages and emotional distress damages - and have those amounts trebled - because Haggen is misrepresenting that there is a valid noncompete.
If you have additional questions about Haggen or want me to review your contract, please get in touch with me. This is a specialized area of the law and I have seen many attorneys not familiar with noncompete issues give bad advice, and charge a lot of money because they need to research issues. This is something I deal with every day.
Although my office is based in Northern California, almost all of my legal work is in Southern California.
Attorney Brian Kindsvater specializes in noncompete issues and has dealt with many employment agencies.
If you have a noncompete issue contact Mr. Kindsvater right away:
Haggen grocery stores non-compete agreement
Haggen non-compete California
Haggen non-compete contract