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. Even if the employee's interests may be important North Carolina courts will certainly assign great weight to a person's freedom to choose the type of employment that is suitable for them. Accordingly, only those covenants which are deemed to be reasonable will be upheld by the court. Covenants not to compete that a court will categorize as unreasonable include provisions that last for a long duration or that restrict the employee to an unreasonable geographic area around New Bern.
The agreements must also deal only with those competitors whose line of employment is rationally related to the previous employer's. Lastly, the employer must have a valid business interest behind its motivation for mandating a covenant not to compete.
Do I Need an Attorney when Dealing with a Covenant not to Compete?
You may want to hire a New Bern, North Carolina lawyer to review the covenant before signing any agreements that may limit or restrict your rights. The lawyer will then be able to negotiate any modifications to the contract as needed, or they can even draft a new one should it be required by one or both parties. When it comes to suing an employee for breach of a non-compete clause, an attorney can give valuable advice. They will also be able to counsel employees who need advice for a covenant they have signed.