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. A court will typically hold non-compete clauses to be unreasonable if they involve unusually long periods of time or if they cover a geographic region surrounding Somerset County that is excessively large.
Non-compete clauses are also limited in that they can only apply to competitors who are reasonably related to the industry of the employer. 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 provisions that could restrict your rights, you may consider hiring a Somerset County, 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. 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.