In Tennessee, a covenant not to compete generally 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 can 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 discern in advance. Although the interests of employers are significant, courts in Tennessee also give importance 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. 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 Shelbyville.
The agreements must also deal only with those competitors whose line of employment is reasonably related to the previous employer's. Lastly, an employer is required to have a legitimate 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 documents that could restrict your rights, you may consider hiring a Shelbyville, 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. When it comes to suing an employee for breach of a non-compete clause, an attorney can provide valuable advice. They will also be able to counsel employees who need advice for a covenant they have signed.