There are a million pieces of paperwork that you need to concern yourself with when you are settling into a new job. Among the large stack of them may be a non-complete agreement. Not sure what to do about it? Take a look and contact an attorney with any questions.
What is a non-compete agreement?
This is a document that – once you sign it – restricts you from working for a similar employer (like the competition) or going into business on your own in a similar form within a certain geographic area for a certain amount of time after signing it. These agreements can vary in terms of geographic size to length as well as other conditions that are specified within the agreement itself.
What rights do you have as an employee?
With a non-compete agreement, you don’t technically have to sign it. If you get the agreement and you don’t find that the terms are reasonable, then you can ask your employer to tweak it to what you’re comfortable with. If you’re still not sure consider contacting an attorney, a professional set of eyes, look it over. They’ll be able to tell you whether there’s anything worth worrying about. They’ll also be able to help you understand what you’re signing.
If you don’t sign it, your employer may choose to not hire you, or they may fire you from your current position (assuming the agreement comes into play after you’ve been hired). So, while you have every right not to sign it, there’s no guarantee that your job will still be there if you decline.
Is it enforceable? How long does it last?
Typically, a non-compete agreement is or is not enforceable depending on how its different factors come into effect. This could be in the geographic area in combination with the amount of time that is required for a non-compete agreement. If the non-compete agreement is asking for upwards of 5 years and covers an entire state, it’s a good bet that it won’t be enforceable due to its high restrictions set in place.
Traditionally, most non-compete agreements are in place for less than two years and are localized to make sure they are fair and reasonable.
How do I get out of it?
With a non-compete agreement, the best way to get out of it is not to sign it in the first place, especially without consulting an attorney first. However, you may be able get out of it legally, especially if the employer doesn’t have any kind of interest in enforcing the contract.
However, you never know and this is why consulting an attorney is so important, before you sign to know what you are getting into and what actions or recourse you may have on the back-end.
This is especially so when they overstep in the material within the agreement in the first place.