Generally speaking, in Montana, a covenant not to compete means that the employee will agree not to work for any of their employer's competitors when leaving the company. Such agreements are also known by the term "non-compete clauses". Employees who sign them can either receive compensation or simply be required to agree as a condition for their employment.

When are Covenants not to Compete Unenforceable?

It is difficult to discern whether a judge will enforce a given non-compete agreement. Even though the interests of an employer are significant, Montana 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. Terms contained in a covenant not to compete will be struck down by a court as unreasonable if they bind the employee for an unusually long period of time or if they cover an unreasonably large geographic area around Billings.

Covenants must also be limited to restricting dealings with those competitors that are reasonably related to the employer?s 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 Billings, Montana lawyer can help you review the covenant before you sign any provisions 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.