In Tennessee, a covenant not to compete typically 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 them either does so as a condition to employment or they may receive compensation for the agreement.
When are Covenants not to Compete Unenforceable?
Whether a given judge will enforce a non-compete agreement is difficult to know in advance. Although the interests of employers are important, courts in Tennessee also give priority to an employee's freedom to choose the type of employment that they desire. As a result, courts usually uphold only those covenants that are consider to be reasonable according to the circumstances. Covenants not to compete that a court will categorize as unreasonable include provisions that last for a long duration or that restrict the employee to an unreasonable geographic area around Knoxville.
Covenants must also be limited to restricting dealings with those competitors that are rationally related to the employer's industry. 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 you sign any agreements that could restrict your rights, you may consider hiring a Knoxville, Tennessee 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.