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. 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. Those agreements that courts have seen to be unreasonable include those that last for an prolonged period of time or cover geographic areas around Valdese that are unreasonably large.

Covenants not to compete are also required to deal only with competitors who are reasonably related to the employer's line of industry. 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?

A Valdese, North Carolina lawyer can help you review the covenant before you sign any documents that might limit your rights. The lawyer can help you in negotiating modifications or if needed, they can possibly draft a new agreement which will be acceptable to both parties. 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.