Non-Compete agreement threatening by employer while on OPT

Opt Student

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I am currently in my STEM OPT Extension. I was working with a Consultancy as a Contractor and was working for a Client with the following relation from more than a year. Consultancy -> Prime-Vendor -> Client. The consultancy only wanted to pay me a fixed amount and took a agreement from me to work with that pay for a year, if not, they wouldn't allow me to work, so I agreed to work with very less pay for one year. Later, after a year, I asked for a pay increase and they wouldn't increase it. So, I asked them if its fine to change employer who pays me more and they happily asked me to go. So, I was waiting for a response from them to confirm my moving out from their company and nobody responded me for almost a month. I tried contacting frequently and yet no response from them. Hence, I changed the employer as I couldn't wait and I need to update the employer change immediately to school DSO. The next day after I updated the change, I received their response threatening me that I have signed a Non-compete agreement with them and I cannot work with their direct or in-direct client or any other employer even after one year and forever according to the agreement I was forced to sign. I had to sign that because I was not released my pay without me sending that signed and notarized (from ups) agreement. I am on OPT and they cheated me saying they'd sponsor me for H1b and didn't even sponsor it last year in which I lost a chance. Now, my new employer sponsors for H1b and pays good and everything's going well, but I'm worried if this notice might affect everything that I've established. How can a student under OPT be restricted from working as it is considered as practical training? Now, they are threatening me and sent a lawyer notice for client and me that I've violated that agreement and needs to pay around 30000$ in less than 2 weeks. If I don't respond with the money, they'd go to the court and take this further. Now after I received the notice, I tried contacting them to discuss about this and yet again, no response from them. I don't know how to respond and defend myself against this case. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.


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