A covenant not to compete typically implies that a Washington employee makes an agreement not to work for any of their employer's competitors should they leave the company for any reason. These covenants are typically called "non-compete clauses". Employees who sign them can either receive compensation or simply be required to agree as a condition for their employment.
When are Covenants not to Compete Unenforceable?
Foreseeing whether or not a judge will uphold a covenant not to compete is typically difficult. Although the interests of employers are significant, courts in Washington 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. A court will normally hold non-compete clauses to be unreasonable if they involve unusually long periods of time or if they cover a geographic region surrounding Richland that is excessively large.
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. Lastly, the covenant not to compete must have a valid 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?
You might want to hire a Richland, Washington lawyer to review the covenant before signing any provisions that may limit or restrict your rights. The lawyer will then be able to negotiate any modifications to the contract as needed, or they can even draft a new one should it be required by one or both parties. An attorney can also give valuable advice when it comes to suing employees for breaching covenants, or counseling employees who have signed one regarding whether they can accept a different job.