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?
Whether or not a judge will conclude that the covenant is enforceable can be difficult to know beforehand. Although the interests of employers are important, courts in North Carolina also give priority 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. 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 Rockingham.
Covenants must also be limited to restricting dealings with those competitors that are rationally related to the employer's industry. Finally, the covenant not to compete must have a legitimate 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?
Since covenants could restrict your rights, you may wish to hire a Rockingham, North Carolina lawyer to review any agreements. 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. An attorney can also give valuable advice when it comes to suing employees for breaching covenants, or counseling employees who have signed one about whether they can accept a different job.