A non-compete in California is a legal document that accepts an employee's written promise that they will not disclose trade secrets and will not engage in competitive behavior for a specified period of time and within a certain geographic location. This written promise comes with limitations, as employers cannot require employees to refrain from working for competitors for life. However, if the agreement is breached within the timeframe of the contract, the employer may come after the employee for any damages.
California Non-Compete Laws - Sections 16600 through 16607 of California State Code (Business and Professions Code).
According to California Law, the state will only step in and take action against an employee or business partner if the recipient has blatantly violated the terms of the agreement. As a result, the employee or business partner may be forced to pay $1,000 fine, and/or serve a short jail sentence if found guilty.