Generally speaking, in New Jersey, 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". An employee who signs a covenant not to compete may receive compensation for the agreement, or in some cases the agreement is a condition for their being hired.
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 the employer?s interests are important, New Jersey courts place great importance on an individual?s freedom to pursue the employment they want. Accordingly, courts have only upheld those agreements that they consider reasonable under the circumstances. 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 Newark 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. 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?
Before you sign any agreements that could restrict your rights, you may consider hiring a Newark, New Jersey 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 considering suing an employee for breach of covenant, or they can counsel employees who have signed such an agreement.