Its a scare tactic to keep the ignorant workers in line. First time I encountered a non-compete (as a factory assembler putting screws in a sheet metal box) I was convinced I was going to be stuck working for these guys forever. So did most of the other people on the floor. I mentioned something to my neighbor, showed him a copy of the Non-Com. He told me what every one else is saying here, it was almost impossible to enforce (in the state I was in at the time) and that there were no penalties and the onus was on the company to do something about it. Of course, I made sure to let all the people on the floor know that information too. After I moved up the ladder to a more technical job there and took a job at a competing company, I got a letter from my old company telling me I was in violation of the Non-Com. My lawyer sent them a letter saying to fuck themselves and that was the end of it.