In Virginia, 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". Compensation may be paid for employees who sign the covenant, or at times the employment may be conditioned upon such an agreement.
When are Covenants not to Compete Unenforceable?
It is difficult to know whether a judge will enforce a given non-compete agreement. Even though the interests of an employer are important, Virginia courts value a person's freedom to select the type of employment that they desire. Thus, courts will typically uphold only those covenants not to compete that they conclude 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 Bristol that are unreasonably large.
Limitations on non-compete clauses must also be restricted to cover only competitors who are related in a rational way to the employer's industry. 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?
Since covenants could restrict your rights, you may wish to hire a Bristol, Virginia lawyer to review any agreements. They will be able to negotiate further changes to the covenant, and can draft an entirely new one that is acceptable to all parties if needed. A lawyer can also render useful advice for employers who are considering suing an employee for breach of covenant, or they can counsel employees who have signed such an agreement.