I’m resigned from Publicis and on my final settlement they are forcing me to sign a paper saying that I can’t work at any other advertising agency or competitors for one year or else I can be sued. Anyone faced this before?

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This happened to me. I got a lawyer. The agency said that it was just a standard document. We got some language changed, and the agency HR person said they wouldn’t be enforcing it. We went back and forth. Then my lawyer said; “You seem like a great guy. I don’t want to see you walk away from this money. There’s gotta be someone at the agency on your side that you can talk to. Someone who would be an advocate for you.” I did. I reached out and was assured I would get my severance. I did and moved on. I did sign the paperwork, with the changes the lawyer made, with the non-compete, with no consequences after signing.

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If you are receiving something irregular, outside of normal separation settlements such as extra weeks of pay, or coverage of benefits for some period of time outside of what is normal policy, you are entering into a contract and they are asking you to sign that in order to receive the additional benefits (in contract law this is called "consideration"). You can negotiate that piece away. If you are receiving a normal separation package, don't sign it. In our industry, they are often unenforceable unless you received additional consideration, as noted above.

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Don't sign it. That's usually a clause when you start or of you get promoted into a very senior position.

likehelpful

A piece of paper like this is legally binding but it is rarely enforceable. What they are worried about is stealing big clients or top employees. So the piece of paper becomes a warning. You are a bigger threat if you are a senior account leader leading a big account and left. You could just sign and go on your merry way if you don’t intend to go to a competitor who is hiring you to go after a top client of your former firm. They will never come after you if you just go to another agency in general or to do something else. I have known others to just cross out certain sections of that contract. Initial those sections and sent back. If you are leaving to help another steal a client then that new employer should be well aware of the no compete clauses and work out something for you in terms of protection. If you are planning to freelance or start your own agency you need to be clear on your short term business plan for working for former clients. There are ways around all of it.

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I worked for Publicis. They can’t withhold pay you already earned, or unpaid benefits you’re entitled to. However, if there’s any sort of addl severance/compensation being offered, they can *ask* you to sign a non-compete IF you want to take the deal. If they’re simply asking for you to sign a non-compete just because they don’t have one on record, I’d tell them thanks, but no thanks. Point is, if this seems completely out of line given the scenario you’re in, I’d consult an employment attorney. Will cost you about $500, but is well worth it if this deal is technical in nature. What state are you in? (State law can come into play here)

likesmart

DO NOT SIGN. This happened to me, however I was offered a small severance package that wasn't worth accepting, over my career. If you are receiving enough money to be a year+ worth of salary then perhaps sign it, but I wouldn't. They don't have the right to keep you from working in your specialized profession. I did consult a lawyer however I really didn't need one so I wouldn't spend the money.

They’re asking you to sign it on your way out? Weird. Usually you sign that when starting.

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Contact an employment lawyer like Stephen Mitchell Sack who’s reasonable ($300) and he’ll deal directly with them - courts take a dim view of a company restricting one’s right to earn income but you don’t want it to go that far.

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So this is why this bowl is always roasting Publicis

likefunny

That's unenforceable

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I was thinking the same thing. Trying to imagine the court case against OP for the evil act of...getting a new job.

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Dont sign it. Publicis NY is a slimy agency run by mostly slimy people and something doesn’t sound right there. They can’t prevent you from leaving.

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Can you just not sign it? I’m struggling to see why they would have any leverage for you to do that

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I resigned from Publicis and was not made to sign that. So either you are very senior or something else is happening. Either way don’t sign it unless they are willing to pay you over a year’s worth of salary.

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Go to the lawyer bowl and ask about the legality of this

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Then they would have to pay you for a year. How do they expect you to make money?

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Definitely don’t sign. I’m relatively Sr, have resigned from several roles and never was asked to sign anything close to that. Ridiculous.

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Don’t sign anything unless it’s in exchange for a large severance package, and if it is, have an employment lawyer negotiate a better deal. They can’t make you sign anything to receive pay you earned. They have no basis to force you to sign anything at all. You can choose to sign it in exchange for something of value, or you can walk away.

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Non-competes do not hold up in court. If you’re resigning you cannot be forced to sign a single thing. Tell them to kick rocks.

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Do not sign. Work with a lawyer. How Publicis does that to you! It’s awful.

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Is some severance contingent upon signing? If not walk out the door...

likesmart

Did you resign or were you let go? Are they asking you to sign a paper that is reminding you of an agreement you sign when you took the job? They can not legally hold your pay if you don’t sign this but they can make a severance package contingent upon signing this, but that is rare. They would need to pay you a years salary to legally prevent you from earning a living for a year.

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I encountered this in the past (not at Publicis). I asked them to remove and I didn’t get push back. Simply put, “you’re asking me to not be employed”.

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Hire a labor attorney and don’t sign anything without consulting with them

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Hello, This is not typically a standard clause to have in an Severance Agreement that I have seen as usually it is a restriction on engaging current clients or employees for a certain term but not out-right restricted employment with other agencies. I would suggest to at least carve out specific agencies that you may work with in the future or counter with the above restrictions.

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Did you get an obscene amount of money here? Somethings not adding up

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That’s what I’m feeling. What makes them think they can ask that now? I can understand when you join, but you’re free. Unless you’re getting a 3 month bonus payout or something.

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