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 hard. 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 Cary.
Limitations on non-compete clauses must also be restricted to cover only competitors who are related in a rational way to the employer's industry. Lastly, the employer needs to have an acceptable business interest 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 Cary, North Carolina lawyer can help you review the covenant before you sign any agreements that might limit your rights. The lawyer can assist 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 about whether they can accept a different job.