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 employer's interest are significant, the courts of New Jersey 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 provisions that courts have seen to be unreasonable include those that last for an prolonged period of time or cover geographic areas around Trenton that are unreasonably large.
The agreements must also deal only with those competitors whose line of employment is rationally related to the previous employer's. Finally, an employer is required to have a valid business reason in its motivation for imposing a covenant not to compete on an employee.
Do I Need an Attorney when Dealing with a Covenant not to Compete?
Before signing anything that may restrict your rights, you may want to hire a Trenton, New Jersey attorney to review the contract. A lawyer can then negotiate to modify the covenant as needed, or may even draft a new one that is acceptable to both parties 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.