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Is There a Way around My Company’s Non-Compete Agreement?

Non-compete agreements are fairly common in the business world, but not every company uses them in the same manner. In some cases, employers expect unreasonable promises from employees. You might feel uncomfortable committing to a non-compete, assuming it will limit your professional opportunities. What should you know if your employer asks you to sign a non-compete agreement?

Non-Compete agreements might soon be a thing of the past.

Some states are moving toward making non-compete agreements unenforceable, but for the time being, if you live in a state that honors such a contract, you need to think carefully before signing on the dotted line.

It is possible to get around a non-compete agreement, but your best bet is to have an attorney review the document prior to signing. Some people are reluctant to do so because they feel it can affect their chances of being hired by a company. However, you are better off understanding the legal jargon in the non-compete before signing, as opposed to signing and finding out several years down the road you have limited your employment opportunities.

What are some things that render a non-compete agreement unenforceable?

In some cases, non-compete agreements violate antitrust laws. If this applies to your current situation, the non-compete is illegal and therefore unenforceable.

Non-competes are often designed to protect specific information gleaned from your time working for a company. If such information is already available to the public, there is no reason to prevent employees from sharing information that is available to the general public.

If the non-compete agreement states that an employer must provide you certain benefits or financial compensation, these obligations must be honored. If anything in your employment contract is violated, the non-compete requirements are also invalid. Likewise, if an employer did anything wrong that caused you to leave, the agreement cannot be enforced.

Some non-compete agreements address working with customers with whom you worked with at a prior company. For instance, if you move from Company A to Company B and a customer contacts you and wants to move his or her business as well, your former employer cannot penalize you. So long as you do not solicit customers it is not considered a violation of the agreement.

Should your former employer accuse you of violating your non-compete agreement and sue for damages, the onus is on them to prove they were injured by your actions. They need to prove that if it were not for your violation of the agreement a customer would have chosen to work with them. This is extraordinarily difficult because it requires the customer to side with your former employer. If they say they chose your new company because of prices or because of poor service from your old company, chances are your former employer will lose the lawsuit.

Fighting a non-compete agreement can be difficult, which is why it is so important to have the support of an experienced attorney. If you would like to know more about non-compete agreements or you have a question about your employer’s policies, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to discuss your case.

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