In Virginia, a covenant not to compete usually 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 usually 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. Some provisions that courts have considered to be unreasonable include terms that last for an unusually long period of time or that cover a geographic around Suffolk that is unreasonably broad.
Limitations on non-compete clauses must also be restricted to cover only competitors who are related in a reasonable way to the employer's 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 Suffolk, 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 Employers can receive useful advice from an attorney should they decide to sue a worker for breaching a covenant, and employees who have signed such covenants can also benefit from a lawyer's counseling.