Generally, 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 can receive compensation for the agreement.
When are Covenants not to Compete Unenforceable?
It is difficult to foresee whether a judge will enforce a given non-compete agreement. Even though the interests of an employer are significant, 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. Covenants not to compete that a court will categorize as unreasonable include agreements that last for a long duration or that restrict the employee to an unreasonable geographic area around Santa Ana.
Non-compete clauses are also limited in that they may only apply to competitors who are rationally related to the industry of the employer. Finally, the employer must have a legitimate business interest behind its motivation for mandating a covenant not to compete.
Do I Need an Attorney when Dealing with a Covenant not to Compete?
Before you sign any documents that could restrict your rights, you may consider hiring a Santa Ana, California attorney who can review the covenant. The attorney can negotiate modifications to the contract if they are needed, and can draft a new clause which is acceptable to the parties involved. A lawyer can also render useful advice for employers who are contemplating suing an employee for breach of covenant, or they can counsel employees who have signed such an agreement.