In South Carolina, a covenant not to compete usually requires that, upon leaving the company, an employee agrees not to be employed by their employer's competitors. A covenant not to compete may also be called a "non-compete clause". An employee who signs a covenant not to compete can 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?
Foreseeing whether or not a judge will uphold a covenant not to compete is usually difficult. While the employer?s interests are significant, South Carolina courts place great weight 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. Terms contained in a covenant not to compete will be struck down by a court as unreasonable if they bind the employee for an unusually long period of time or if they cover an unreasonably large geographic area around Charleston.
The agreements must also deal only with those competitors whose line of employment is reasonably related to the previous employer's. Finally, there must be a valid business interest which motivates the employer's mandating a covenant not to compete.
Do I Need an Attorney when Dealing with a Covenant not to Compete?
A Charleston, South Carolina lawyer can help you review the covenant before you sign any provisions that might limit your rights. The lawyer can help you in negotiating modifications or if needed, they can possibly draft a new agreement which will be acceptable to both parties. An attorney can also give valuable advice when it comes to suing employees for breaching covenants, or counseling employees who have signed one regarding whether they can accept a different job.