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 Washington 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, 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 documents that could restrict your rights, you may consider hiring a Washington, 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. When it comes to suing an employee for breach of a non-compete clause, an attorney can give valuable advice. They will also be able to counsel employees who need advice for a covenant they have signed.