Typically, a covenant not to compete is when a California employee agrees not to work for an employer's competitors when the employee leaves the company. Covenants not to compete are also known as "non-compete clauses". An employee who signs them either does so as a condition to employment or they may receive compensation for the agreement.
When are Covenants not to Compete Unenforceable?
It is difficult to know whether a judge will enforce a given non-compete agreement. Even though the interests of an employer are important, California courts value a person's freedom to select the type of employment that they desire. Thus, courts will typically uphold only those covenants not to compete that they conclude to be reasonable. Those provisions that courts have seen to be unreasonable include those that last for an prolonged period of time or cover geographic areas around Oakland that are unreasonably large.
Covenants not to compete are also required to deal only with competitors who are rationally related to the employer's line of industry. Lastly, the employer needs to have an acceptable business interest which justifies their motives in requiring their employee to sign a covenant not to compete.
Do I Need an Attorney when Dealing with a Covenant not to Compete?
An Oakland, California lawyer can help you review the covenant before you sign any agreements that might limit your rights. The lawyer can assist you in negotiating modifications or if needed, they can possibly draft a new agreement which will be acceptable to both parties. A lawyer can also render useful advice for employers who are considering suing an employee for breach of covenant, or they can counsel employees who have signed such an agreement.