Do You Need a Non-Compete Lawyer?

  • Are you hesitating in accepting a new position because the employer is asking you to sign an oppressive non-compete agreement?

  • Are you stuck in a dead-end position because your non-compete agreement is preventing you from finding a better position elsewhere?
  • Have you lost the ability to use your customer list built up over the course of your career because an employer now claims that list belongs to them?
  • Is your career advancement on hold because you are under the thumb of a non-compete agreement with a former employer?

Non-compete agreements are a part of employment contract law intended to protect employers against employees who leave and take with them a number of customers or significant industry intelligence. However, these so-called restrictive covenants were always intended to be as narrow as possible to defend the employer’s legitimate interests. As employers have begun to use these agreements more and more frequently, a number of states have limited the circumstances under which employers are allowed to restrain trade. By retaining a lawyer to defend your interests against an employer seeking to implement or enforce a non-compete agreement, you can often limit the employer’s ability to exercise such restraints on trade, and in some cases, have the entire agreement struck down.

People ask us:

The Employment Law Group® law firm is a recognized leader in the field of employment law and has successfully fought to protect employees’ rights in the workplace, including defending employees from their former employers and unfair non-compete agreements. Our attorneys are experienced in evaluating the various strategies available to attack the enforceability of unfair and burdensome non-compete agreements.

In addition to working on numerous cases to defend against non-compete agreements, TELG attorneys are frequently published and routinely invited to participate as presenters and panelists on topics related to noncompete agreements.

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By working with an attorney, employees can negotiate the terms of a non-compete agreement or take steps that will prevent a former employer from standing in the way of a new opportunity.

As with all legal claims, deadlines are crucial. Statutes of limitations on non-compete agreements may vary from one case to another, but a smart employee will take steps to prevent a legal dispute before it happens.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does employment contract law make non-compete agreements unenforceable?

The law can substantially vary from state to state but, generally, a non-compete may be unenforceable if the agreement is:

  • Excessively severe or oppressive,
  • Unclear or ambiguous,
  • Overly broad, covering too large of a geographical area or for too long of a time period, or if it is
  • Unnecessary to protect your former employer’s legitimate business interests.
  • Additionally, you might also be protected from a non-compete if:
  • You were fired,
  • Your former employer selectively enforces non-competes,
  • Enforcing the agreement would require you to relocate a great distance,
  • Your new job does not place you in direct competition with your former employer, or if
  • Your former employer acted improperly or unlawfully with regard to your employment, such as withholding wages, discriminating against you or retaliating against you.

What can I do if my former employer is trying to enforce an unfair non-compete provision?

One option may be to turn the tables on your former employer by seeking a declaratory judgment from the courts and forcing your employer to defend their non-compete. Furthermore, in some jurisdictions you may be able to sue for damages you incurred as a result of your former employer’s attempt to enforce an unenforceable non-competition provision.

What should I consider before signing an agreement?

Each employee’s case is unique, and there are a number of factors that impact whether you should sign a non-compete agreement:

  • Can you support yourself with the imposed restrictions? Don’t unknowingly agree to give up your future livelihood for a job today.
  • Preferably, only agree to sign an agreement that specifies competitors or other employers instead of an entire region.
  • Try to narrow the agreement to a specific field or product and not just something overly broad such as ‘sales’ for example.
  • Identify what commercially valuable information your employer is seeking to protect.
  • Ask for a garden leave provision – under this provision you must provide advanced notice of your intent to leave your employer but if your employer ask you to leave, they will continue to pay you for a pre-determined period of time during which you are restricted from competing

Why should I act quickly?

When facing a lawsuit over a non-compete agreement, sometimes known as a restrictive covenant, you must act quickly because your former employer may seek to prevent you from working at your new job.

What’s the next step I should take?

There are exceptions and every claim is different but if you believe your former employer is unfairly attempting to enforce a non-competition provision call The Employment Law Group® law firm to schedule a consultation with us and, together, we’ll decide what your next move should be.