Charlie Longbrief picked up the phone on a Friday afternoon. He was accustomed to these late Friday afternoon calls. People with problems always seemed to call at this time because they need peace of mind over the weekend. It was his friend Joe Smith who worked as sales manager for Shake, Rattle & Roll, Inc. a local baby toy manufacturer.
"Charlie I need help. I have just been fired from my job," said Joe.
"Tell me about it," replied Charlie.
"Well, I didn’t like working there anyway and I was looking for another job. I think I found one with a competitor but unfortunately my employer caught wind of it and they fired me. I have a non-compete but of course they can’t enforce that against me because I was fired, right?" asked Joe.
"Unfortunately Joe that is not always the case. In Iowa, non-competes may be enforced even in situations where the employee has been fired. It may be a factor to consider but the fact you were fired rather than quit does not necessarily invalidate the non-compete," Charlie said.
Joe shot back, "But I was told by my cousin Frank that works down at the loading dock that one of his friends said they couldn’t uphold a non-compete against me if I was fired."
"I know that is a common belief but I am sorry to inform you that is not always the case. It always depends on the circumstances of the particular case. Every case is different but just because you are fired does not mean they can’t enforce the non-compete," said Charlie with a little more emphasis this time.
Charlie continued, "As you know I mostly represent businesses and I recently wrote an article on Protecting Your Iowa Business With a Non-Compete. Why don’t you take a look at it. It outlines some of the key issues in determining whether a non-compete is valid in Iowa. From an employee perspective it is never a bad idea to look at the situation from the employer’s perspective and vise versa. Read the article and then let’s talk."
"Thanks, Charlie. Not what I wanted to hear but at least I have a better idea of where I stand. I’ll give you a call back Monday," said Joe.