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  • Contracts...

    So I am curious about the industry standards.

    How many pros out there have had too or had someone else sign a "non-compete" clause or contract? basically something that restricts what a person can or cannot do with your current customers once they leave employment.

    For example: you work for owner x. they don't want you taking their business should you leave or be fired. So they ask you to sign a contract saying that you can have no contact, teach or train for any clients of Owner x for a period of y months or years after leaving their employment.

    Have you ever signed something like this and if so would you again? Have you ever been asked to sign this? and lastly for everyone else if you were in that position would you sign it?


  • #2
    That sounds kind of bogus. If "owner x" is afraid of losing clients to someone they hire, then they should be improving their business/establishment or whathaveyou so that they have confidence in their teaching/management etc. I think more info could help but the only thing they can do to prevent their clients from liking you more is to work harder to improve themselves. (and not slander you which I have seen in many cases!)

    So no, I wouldn't sign something like this.


    • #3
      I've seen and heard of it. Personally, I would not sign one unless I got hired for a serious, dependable salary at a very reputable barn... and even then I would still be leery of it.


      • #4
        In some states, these "non compete" contracts cannot be enforced. As long as you leave with proper notice, a barn/stable cannot prevent you from working in your chosen field. What would they do to you? Garnish your "wages" which in most cases are truly laughable anyway.


        • #5
          Why do that? So assistant Amy does not decide to leave in 90 days, fail to give any notice in advance of 2 weeks so she can spend the last 3 months of her employment enticing select Barn A clients to leave with her to barn B at the expense of the non selected clients who cannot seem to get her attention and head trainer who is on the road trusting Amy to run the business.

          You can argue if the clients are happy they would never leave and that is partially true. But when Amy makes promises of reductions in fees, favors and special treatment while fawning over select clients?? Some bite.

          Have had a bad personnal experience twice over the years with departing assistants who pushed me to go with them (and keep it a secret from head trainer) and made many promises. Once I did go-and came back in 6 months when the promises were broken-like the reduced board and lesson/show fees that evaporated. The other time I sad no thanks and had all my lessons reschedualed or missed and found things on my bill that were not done (and were removed when head trainer got back from WEF-along with Assistant Amy before she had planned to exit).

          In upper level barns it's not that unusual and is drawn up by the barn's attorney as part of the employment contract.

          And, NO, this is not the only profession with them. My dentist just dissolved a partnership and his former partner had to go 30 miles or more as per the partnership contract. Enforcement may be dubious but they are not that unusual in employment or partnership contracts.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


          • #6
            I've seen a mileage type of one. If you quit working for Barn A, you can't teach/ride/set-up shop within XX miles of Barn A. The one I saw was 25 miles.
            "I'm not crazy...my mother had me tested"


            • #7
              Originally posted by Cookiewoo View Post
              In some states, these "non compete" contracts cannot be enforced. As long as you leave with proper notice, a barn/stable cannot prevent you from working in your chosen field. What would they do to you? Garnish your "wages" which in most cases are truly laughable anyway.
              Well, in Texas, iirc, they can take you to court and win and force you to chose between closing up shop or moving. Yes, if you sign a noncompete clause, in many states the ARE enforceable and they CAN keep you from doing business, providing the court finds the conditions reasonable. Many, MANY dance studios (especially the franchises) have these clauses, and they've held up when challenged (to the point one person did time for contempt of court after ignoring a ruling against him.) The courts have found in favor of things like distance restrictions (no opening up your own business within twenty-five miles of the competitor's location) and restrictions on whom you can teach for a certain period (you can't steal students for, say, three years.)

              Now, most courts would find something like "Nothing within this STATE" or "you may NEVER accept a student who danced with studio A in perpetuity" as unreasonably restrictive. But a year, three, five? Twenty-five mile radius? Can be upheld and has been. The only choice in that situation was not to sign them in the first place.
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              • #8
                The ones I am familiar with have been 50 miles and a year....and in one case 2 clients jumped the gun but no action was taken. One came back in a month anyway.

                Some former assistants have very quietly free lanced within the mileage restrictions, trainer was aware but took no action as services offered were not offered at home barn. Mainly breaking colts and riding stinkers on a per ride pricing basis.
                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                • #9
                  Find an employment lawyer in your state and spend the amount it takes to be sure the agreement is appropriate and follows the law. I think in today's world having one signed is a good idea because people do up and leave employment and can devastate a business taking clients with them. Since the barn owner is supplying their business acumen, facility, etc, they should protect themselves to ensure their business does not take a hit. But it should be fair for all involved.

                  If you don't like it then go open a barn, pay the mortgage or lease fee, and deal with the headaches of trying to make the bills (those known and those that show up when you least expect it like damaged property) and run a business.

                  But your question was a good one but better suited for a lawyer in your state to guide you.


                  • #10
                    Non-compete clauses are enforceable or not based on state law and deoending on whether they are reasonable in time and scope....

                    They are individual contracts and can be drafted to the needs/details of a particular situation.

                    For a young new trainer joining an existing program .... the existing program is providing the clients, the facilities, the horses etc... as well as providing the opportunity for the new pro to get experience and to build a reputation. Seems reasonable that they would expect that the same young pro not turn around and "steal" clients when they leave or open their own shop... so a non-compete that prevents the young pro from soliciting clients in a distance of 20 miles for 6 months seems a reasonable tradeoff for the young pro... Remember the young pro can choose not to take the job and therefore not to sign the non-compete.

                    Say you have an established pro with clients moving to a new facility.... then the non-compete could be altered to exclude the pro's current clients from the terms of the the non-compete as well as any other terms mutually agreed upon.

                    Non-competes are used in a number of professions and businesses - its not that unusual


                    • #11
                      It seems to me that the OP has a good understanding of what a Non-compete is, but would like to know about those who have signed one or been asked to.

                      I personally have signed one and I have been asked and refused. It depends on how stable I think the business is. If I think I have nothing to loose by signing one.

                      I think a lot of BO/BNT/LNT etc etc use it in a context that actually differs from what it is AND they count on the trainer not knowing any better!

                      For example if you sign something that says you cannot contact and work for clients for one year, that is a non solicitation contract. If Said clients approach you then you can take their services. I know one trainer who signed a non solicitation contract that was labeled as a non compete and when people left and found her the BO went after her. Trainer back off and was asked to leave the current barn........If she would have fought it she would have found she was within her rights.

                      So it goes both ways but it can greatly hinder you in your future if you leave and are in a very tight nit horse community that has students who have been to several of the barns. Could you imagine working at barn B and have students who leave barn A because the are un happy. they show up at barn B are super excite you are there and then you have to refuse them you services? I wonder how barn B BO would take that.....


                      • #12
                        In a tight "nit" community barn B owner would know about the non compete and how to handle it would have been discussed.

                        In said community, barn B owner does not want a war with barn A owner/trainer. Ends up costing business between the barns in the long term and they know it.

                        Horse community does not operate in a vacuum and there are not as many secrets as some would think. Plus, barn B owner will not want Amy taking THEIR clients to barn C in 2 years if they allow her to bring barn A's in today in violation of a known non compete.
                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                        • #13
                          Agree these laws vary from state to state, so if OP has been presented w/ a non-compete contract they could/should check w/ their local county/city/state labor office to determine the enforceability of such a contract w/in their state.
                          The employer has to have legit business reasons for asking an employee to sign a non-compete, and they cannot force you to sign "just because". clients/customers..
                          Last edited by gottagrey; Jun. 15, 2011, 03:48 PM.


                          • #14
                            When I worked at Auntie Annes I had to sign a contract saying I wouldn't work for another pretzel company for a year following the completion of my employment....but I have never had anything even close to that at any barns
                            I WAS a proud member of the *I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday* clique..but now I am 30!!!!!!!!!!!
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