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 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?
Knowing in advance whether a judge will enforce an employee's non-compete clause can be difficult. While employer's interest are important, the courts of North Carolina 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. Some provisions that courts have considered to be unreasonable include terms that last for an unusually long period of time or that cover a geographic around Fayetteville that is unreasonably broad.
Non-compete clauses are also limited in that they may only apply to competitors who are rationally related to the industry of the employer. Finally, there must be a valid 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 Fayetteville, 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. A lawyer can also render useful advice for employers who are contemplating suing an employee for breach of covenant, or they can counsel employees who have signed such an agreement.