Generally speaking, in North Carolina, a covenant not to compete means that the employee will agree not to work for any of their employer's competitors upon leaving the company. Such agreements are also known by the term "non-compete clauses". Employees who sign them may either receive compensation or simply be required to agree as a condition for their employment.
When are Covenants not to Compete Unenforceable?
Knowing in advance whether a judge will enforce an employee's non-compete clause can be difficult. Although the interests of employers are important, courts in North Carolina also give priority to an employee's freedom to choose the type of employment that they desire. As a result, courts usually uphold only those covenants that are consider to be reasonable according to the circumstances. Terms contained in a covenant not to compete will be struck down by a court as unreasonable if they bind the employee for an excessively long period of time or if they cover an unreasonably large geographic area around Boone.
Covenants must also be limited to restricting dealings with those competitors that are rationally related to the employer's industry. Lastly, there must be a legitimate business interest which motivates the employer's mandating a covenant not to compete.
Do I Need an Attorney when Dealing with a Covenant not to Compete?
Since covenants could restrict your rights, you may wish to hire a Boone, North Carolina lawyer to review any documents. They will be able to negotiate further changes to the covenant, and can draft an entirely new one that is acceptable to all parties if needed. Attorneys can provide valuable counseling to employers who are considering suing an employer who breached a covenant not to compete. They can also assist employees who have signed an agreement limiting their employment options.