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?
Foreseeing whether or not a judge will uphold a covenant not to compete is typically difficult. While the employer?s interests are important, Virginia courts place great importance 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. Some agreements that courts have considered to be unreasonable include terms that last for an unusually long period of time or that cover a geographic around Fairfax that is unreasonably broad.
The agreements must also deal only with those competitors whose line of employment is rationally related to the previous employer's. Lastly, the employer must have a valid business interest behind its motivation for mandating a covenant not to compete.
Do I Need an Attorney when Dealing with a Covenant not to Compete?
A Fairfax, Virginia lawyer can help you review the covenant before you sign any agreements that might limit your rights. The lawyer can assist you in negotiating modifications or if needed, they can possibly draft a new agreement which will be acceptable to both parties. When it comes to suing an employee for breach of a non-compete clause, an attorney can give valuable advice. They will also be able to counsel employees who need advice for a covenant they have signed.