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. While employer's interest are significant, 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. Some agreements that courts have considered to be unreasonable include terms that last for an unusually long period of time or that cover a geographic around Winterville that is unreasonably broad.
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?
Before you sign any agreements that could restrict your rights, you may consider hiring a Winterville, 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. Attorneys can provide valuable counseling to employers who are considering suing an employer who breached a covenant not to compete. They can also assist employees who have signed an agreement limiting their employment options.