simon_four_fingers
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I'd sign it, and when the time came to move on try not to go to a direct competitor. But if I got an offer from one and I was unemployed I'd take it. Non-competes are not a big issue. Non-disclosures I take pretty seriously.
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Greenman
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Kershaw wrote:sounds like layoffs are on the horizon......
If that's the case then I would negotiate terms that void the non-compete in the case of being terminated or laid off. In that case, they don't damage your career by letting you go, and you don't damage the company by leaving to work for a competitor. Call it a good faith agreement if you will.
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no_spec
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Its not unusual, since there's only a handful of appliance firms to work for, that they'd not want you taking secrets to a competitor. If they fire you, the deal's off. your free to go wherever - but you should still respect trade secrets.
there's really no reason not to sign it unless your looking to work with a competitor..?
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IDiot
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Have they stated explicitly that those who do not sign will be terminated?
They rolled out non-competes while I was there a few years back and I think there were about 3 of us that did not sign and there were no repercussions or mentions of it again for the rest of my tenure there. I think the other two guys are still around, wonder what they're doing this time around.

Yo is right though, they aren't easily enforceable and they are typically going to worry more about bigger fish. One of the cases I found while looking up info when I was figuring out whether to sign or not was of a salesperson that left Whirlpool for a competitor and the court found his non-compete to be overreaching and unenforceable.
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Travisimo
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Benton_des wrote: My question: is this a common practice? Are other companies asking their designers to sign such restrictive non compete agreements? I could understand it if the agreement spelled out LG appliances or GE appliances, etc. but to leave it to 'management discretion' puts me in a position of potentially resigning... then being told I can't leave (or I can leave, but not work and not earn a living...) because someone decided the company I would like to join is a competitor. It feels like they are asking for a huge leap of faith to sign such a restrictive legal document and trust it will be managed appropriately.

I would like to know if this is an emerging trend or if this is just a one off occurance with one particular company.
Over here in the South West UK, I've heard a lot of friends at Dyson being asked to sign the same kind of document. They don't explicitly say you will be terminated for not signing, but (hearing all this second hand, mind you) there is a lot of pressure for everyone in the company to sign it, and it's apparently fairly restrictive about non-competes and IP for work done after hours. I've heard they can't join companies with more than a couple ex Dyson employees for instance. I have no idea if it's enforceable, but it's definitely happening in other companies.
simon_four_fingers wrote:I'd sign it, and when the time came to move on try not to go to a direct competitor. But if I got an offer from one and I was unemployed I'd take it. Non-competes are not a big issue. Non-disclosures I take pretty seriously.
I'd do what Simon says
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Generatewhatsnext
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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.
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TaylorWelden
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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.

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no_spec
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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?
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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.
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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 :)

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Modern Man says "stick it to the Man!" er... stick to the... eh... Good luck.
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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...
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Greenman
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no_spec wrote: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.
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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!
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no_spec
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So they just posted job openings - premtive, or did you find another gig and they're backfilling...?
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