In Virginia, 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". Compensation might be paid for employees who sign the covenant, or at times the employment might 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 generally difficult. Even though the interests of an employer are significant, 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 agreements that courts have seen to be unreasonable include those that last for an prolonged period of time or cover geographic areas around Richmond that are unreasonably large.
Covenants not to compete are also required to deal only with competitors who are reasonably related to the employer's line of industry. Finally, the employer needs to have an acceptable business purpose which justifies their motives in requiring their employee to sign a covenant not to compete.
Do I Need an Attorney when Dealing with a Covenant not to Compete?
Before signing anything that may restrict your rights, you might want to hire a Richmond, Virginia attorney to review the contract. A lawyer can then negotiate to modify the covenant as needed, or might even draft a new one that is acceptable to both parties A lawyer can also render useful advice for employers who are contemplating suing an employee for breach of covenant, or they can counsel employees who have signed such an agreement.