A covenant not to compete generally 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 generally difficult. Even though the interests of an employer are significant, Washington 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 Vancouver 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, there must be a valid business interest which motivates the employer's mandating a covenant not to compete.
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 Vancouver, Washington lawyer to review any documents. 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. 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.