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. 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 Graham.
Covenants not to compete are also required to deal only with competitors who are reasonably related to the employer's line of industry. 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?
Before signing anything that may restrict your rights, you might want to hire a Graham, North Carolina attorney to review the contract. A lawyer can then negotiate to modify the covenant as needed, or might even draft a new one that is acceptable to both parties Attorneys can provide valuable counseling to employers who are contemplating suing an employer who breached a covenant not to compete. They can also assist employees who have signed an agreement limiting their employment options.