In general, covenants not to compete involve an employee in the state of Massachusetts who agrees not to work for competitors of their employer when they leave the company. Such covenants are often called "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?
Knowing in advance whether a judge will enforce an employee's non-compete clause can be difficult. Even if the employee's interests may be significant Massachusetts courts will certainly assign great weight to a person's freedom to choose the type of employment that is suitable for them. Accordingly, only those covenants which are deemed to be reasonable will be upheld by the court. Those agreements that courts have seen to be unreasonable include those that last for an prolonged period of time or cover geographic areas around Boston that are unreasonably large.
Covenants not to compete are also required to deal only with competitors who are reasonably related to the employer's line of industry. Finally, the employer needs to have an acceptable business purpose 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?
A Boston, Massachusetts lawyer can help you review the covenant before you sign any documents that might limit your rights. The lawyer can help you in negotiating modifications or if needed, they can possibly draft a new agreement which will be acceptable to both parties. 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.