Generally speaking, in Ohio, a covenant not to compete means that the employee will agree not to work for any of their employer's competitors when leaving the company. Such agreements are also known by the term "non-compete clauses". Compensation might be paid for employees who sign the covenant, or at times the employment might be conditioned upon such an agreement.
When are Covenants not to Compete Unenforceable?
Whether a given judge will enforce a non-compete agreement is difficult to discern in advance. While employer's interest are important, the courts of Ohio 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 provisions that courts have considered to be unreasonable include terms that last for an unusually long period of time or that cover a geographic around Cleveland that is unreasonably broad.
Non-compete clauses are also limited in that they may only apply to competitors who are rationally related to the industry of the employer. Finally, the employer needs to have an acceptable business purpose which justifies their motives in requiring their employee to sign 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 Cleveland, Ohio 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 contemplating suing an employer who breached a covenant not to compete. They can also assist employees who have signed an agreement limiting their employment options.