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UI benefits and no-compete (Kansas)

by Evan

I worked for a local wholesaler for 15 months. Its a very small local-owned company. 25 employees. I have a history in this business and applied for the position. When I started, I was given an employee handbook, but only given verbal statements as to how to do my job, as an outside salesman. I developed what I needed to do over time, and by the other 6 outside salesmen there. My territory was the only town that the company was in, the other guys had large territories.

My job is to build relationships with the contractors that used our products, to persuade them to purchase from us, instead of the corporate competition. Take care of warranties, show products etc. One of our biggest business' is with new projects, such as hotels, hospitals, etc. Its an extremely huge competition. And with the economy, the amount of jobs started dropping, and the competition started getting tougher and tougher. As a local company, we just couldn't compete sometimes.

The owners of the company, I believe know it, but find it easier to blame their employees. I found out about a year after I worked for them, that I was second choice, and the guy they wanted left after 2 days to the competition for better money. The guy who worked before me was given a choice, because of economy/business, to leave within 30 days or be fired. He left. I had 2 days of training inside the company, none for formal outside sales.

I had went home every day for lunch, and sometimes through out the day for the entire time I worked there. Not the entire day, but if I set up appointments and/or got my work done, I went home or did personal stuff. The other sales people stated thats exactly what they do/did, and no where in my handbook did it state I couldn't do that, nor was it told to me via verbal.

One day I was coming in the afternoon and the boss/owner pulled me into his office, and said today is your last day with XX supply co. Our company owned cell phones have a gps tech and they knew that I was going home, and they blamed me for the business starting to fall. I was offered 60 days COBRA, and I could pay for after. I was not warned ever, written or verbal. and not allowed my side of the story. I was walked out. This took approx 10 minutes from the time I walked into the office until the time I was escorted out.
The same day I filed for unemployment, and had my phone interview 5 weeks later. The next day after getting fired, I was called by out largest competitor with a job offer. I went in, and the manager was wanting me hired, after compliments from my customers. The area manager decided I was too-high risk because of
my possible law-suit for the no-compete. I can't get a job (even at lowes) for what I know because of the no-compete. The jobs I have found, don't pay anything near what I made, and I will be barely making it. The ex-employer will not release the no-compete because they know that I will directly compete against them for their competition, and I know their secrets of the business. I know their situation, but I'm going to run out of money at the end of this month, and am working what I can to make ends-meet, including attempting to sell my house. The lady I talked to at unemployment understood my situation, and told me that the company claims I lied, but doesn't have any other information (at the time) and was going to ask for more, and I haven't heard anything back. 3 weeks later.

Since the company is so small, I believe they will argue the point of willfull misconduct, however I never read that in the handbook, nor was I warned about it. Also, the other salesman do the same, and they are not punished. I believe the owner started to dislike me, and I have recently found that he had someone in line to be hired immediately after I was let-go. Makes me believe that he planned it. I was never offered another position or demoted, I was simply let go.

Do I have a chance? the UI benefits are almost 450/week, so its hardly enough to sneeze at.

Hi Evan,

The non-compete is irrelevant to unemployment benefits. It's another matter altogether and one you need an attorney to take a look at to see just how binding and enforceable "all" aspects of it are.

I don't know about KS, but the state I live in .. doesn't like non-competes much.

As far as UI benefits .. you live in Kansas and they happen to have some stricter rules about employer protesting unemployment claims and providing "complete information" at the initial claim level.

If you have not received a determination yet .. 3 weeks after your interview .. you might consider gluing your phone to your ear until you can get a hold of someone an ask about it.

Willful misconduct does not necessarily need to be defined by an employer's handbook. I think, what you were fired for in itself would be disqualifying because if you were earning a base plus commission that means the employer was paying you for 40 hours of work and just like someone who has to stand at a cash register except for breaks an employer has the right to expect that you won't be taking care of personal business on THEIR time.

Now, the fact that the employer has chosen to enforce this duty or obligation reasonably owed to them .. in your case only .. is a matter open for discussion and presents a "possible" argument for benefits.

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