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 Maria.
Non-compete clauses are also limited in that they may only apply to competitors who are rationally related to the industry of the employer. Lastly, an employer is required to have a legitimate business reason in its motivation for imposing a covenant not to compete on an employee.
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 Maria, 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. An attorney can also give valuable advice when it comes to suing employees for breaching covenants, or counseling employees who have signed one regarding whether they can accept a different job.