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?
Whether or not a judge will conclude that the covenant is enforceable can be challenging to know beforehand. Although the interests of employers are significant, courts in North Carolina also give importance 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. Those agreements that courts have seen to be unreasonable include those that last for an prolonged period of time or cover geographic areas around Polk County that are unreasonably large.
The agreements must also deal only with those competitors whose line of employment is reasonably related to the previous employer's. Lastly, the covenant not to compete must have a valid business purpose which is behind the employer's motivation for requiring the agreement.
Do I Need an Attorney when Dealing with a Covenant not to Compete?
Before you sign any agreements that could restrict your rights, you may consider hiring a Polk County, North Carolina attorney who can review the covenant. The attorney can negotiate modifications to the contract if they are needed, and can draft a new clause which is acceptable to the parties involved. 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.