Generally, a covenant not to compete is when a Florida 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". Signing such an agreement can either be a condition for being employed, or the employee may receive additional compensation for doing so.
When are Covenants not to Compete Unenforceable?
It is difficult to foresee whether a judge will enforce a given non-compete agreement. While employer's interest are important, the courts of Florida also put a high level of importance on a person's ability to pursue their desired employment opportunities. Consequently, a court will generally only uphold non-compete clauses which under the circumstances are considered to be reasonable. Those agreements that courts have seen to be unreasonable include those that last for an prolonged period of time or cover geographic areas around Tampa that are unreasonably large.
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 Tampa, Florida 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. Attorneys can provide valuable counseling to employers who are contemplating suing an employer who breached a covenant not to compete. They can also assist employees who have signed an agreement limiting their employment options.