Whirlpool and Non Compete For Designers

To echo what most have said, I’ve rarely seen a non-compete enforced by litigation. And in addition, just because the document says they don’t owe you anything if they let you go, that’s not the end of it - if you have to be in an outgoing HR interview there is ample time to negotiate $$ help so that you can search for other employment. One of the benefits of working for a large US Corporation is that the HR policies tend to be beneficial to the outgoing employee.

If you plan to stay for any length of time, I’d sign it. Good luck with your decision.

Generally speaking, I do not sign them… especially since I’m full-time freelance. One client sent over a non-compete, which stated that I could not work on any softgoods bags/packs/luggage of any kind for 12 months. This covered 95% of products that I work on. It was worded in such a broad manner, that I wouldn’t be able to work on anything that included fabric or thread basically. Was that $3-4k project worth losing an entire year-long salary? Absolutely not. I explained this to them, and they understood. I didn’t end up signing it.

In your case, this is a bit different, as you’re in a corporate setting. Just sharing my experience.

Best of luck!

I wonder if this is a carryover from car design? detroit is notoriously secretive.
how long has the new director from Ford been at Wpool?

I wanted to let you all know what I discovered from my attorney. Her view was that - shy of going to work for a direct competitor in Whirlpool’s core (not adjacent) business - the non compete is not enforceable. That was the good news. The bad news was - enforceable or not - I would have signed a legally binding contract (for no additional compensation than what I was making for years before I signed the non compete!) and I am liable any costs associated with defending myself in court, should Whirlpool decide to pursue the matter. Her take was was that Whirlpool had really gone overboard with this non compete especially at my relatively low level in the organization however, as it has been made a condition of employment, I need to go in with my eyes wide open.

I will likely end up signing it if I have to (I will stall signing it as long as I can) but I have also started an aggressive search for opportunities elsewhere. For me this is an issue of trust and after a lot of reflection, I just can’t work in an environment I can’t trust.

As I have stated earlier, it is a shame to even have to deal with this issue. To no_spec’s question, my understanding is that the current head of design is squarely behind having everyone sign this non compete and had input on its scope.

Thanks to everyone for their input and constructive advice. This forum is great and amazingly helpful.

Best of luck. On the flip side, instead of looking at it as a trust issue you can feel good they think you are valuable enough to want to keep competitors from having you :slight_smile:


Modern Man says “stick it to the Man!” er… stick to the… eh… Good luck.

I don’t really have a clue as to why they’d spring this on everyone, my cynical side suspects that a big round of layoffs are coming and they want to try and convince people that they can’t go to competitors afterwards…

That is so bush-league. Suspecting that’s the case I’d sign the NDA, line up a good gig just in case, and if I survived the layoffs I’d put in my two weeks immediately afterwards.

I would bet the reason they are doing this is because some exec. got a bug up his *** and has it forced it downs everyone’s throat. Other than the design director, no one is valuable enough to need to protect like this. If they are that valuable, the company would cough up enough cash and kiss their behinds to make sure they never even think of leaving.

My previous employer tried to force this on everyone. Canadian law is clearly against these agreements though. I didn’t sign and I think many of us didn’t. Eventually the exec. forgot about why it was important and after 3 weeks of harassment by HR, I never heard about it again. Probably, had I signed it, they would have forgotten about it and tossed them all in the shredder or lost them.

Whatever you decide, best of luck!

So they just posted job openings - premtive, or did you find another gig and they’re backfilling…?

Still here but actively looking and am close to a very exciting opportunity with another company.

There have been over 15 designers who have left Whirlpool since January and most of those roles have not been filled. The mood is: everything is OK on the surface, but the whole non compete fiasco has really upset most of the team.

The strategy seems to be to limit the ability of talent to move (within the company or externally) and leaders here seem to confuse good retention practice with trying to hold people through some fairly heavy handed policies. Not the most enlightened approach.