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 Raleigh that are unreasonably large.
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, the employer needs to have an acceptable business purpose 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?
You might want to hire a Raleigh, North Carolina lawyer to review the covenant before signing any provisions 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. Employers can receive useful advice from an attorney should they decide to sue a worker for breaching a covenant, and employees who have signed such covenants can also benefit from a lawyer's counseling.