Sometimes non-compete agreements are called restrictive covenants. They are also some times reffered to as a restraint of trade agreement.
Typical Purpose of Non-Compete
Regardless of what the agreement is called, when dealing with employees, such agreements typically attempt to:
- prevent employees from soliciting an employer’s customers for a period of time once employment has ceased;
- prevent employees from soliciting an employer’s employees for a period of time once employment has ceased;
- prevent the employee from being employed or starting a business that competes with the employer during the employment or for a period of time after the employment.
Requirements for Valid Non-Compete
While non-compete agreements are valid in Florida pursuant to Florida Statute 542.335, for them to be enforceable against an employee it must be:
- in writing;
- supported by a legitimate business interest;
- be reasonable in time. (It is presumed that any restraint of six months or less in duration is reasonable and more than two years is unreasonable);
- be reasonable in geographically scope.
It is the employer’s burden to prove each of these elements. There are numerous ways an employee can contest such agreements. Obviously, an employee can demonstrate that none of the foregoing elements are present. Many non-compete agreements are held unenforceable due to an employer’s inability to prove the foregoing. In addition, an employee can present evidence of a defense to the enforcement of the contract. For example, an employee can produce evidence that demonstrates during the employment the employer breached the agreement by failing to pay him or her in accordance with the employment contract or law. Under such situations the employer’s prior breach of the agreement could void the employee’s obligation under the non-compete agreement. An employee could also produce evidence that the employer has not been damaged by any alleged breach and thus the employee should be able to continue to work at the alleged competitor.
Whether or not a non-compete agreement is valid truly depends on the specific facts and circumstances. If you have any questions regarding your non-compete agreement you should contact a Labor & Employment lawyer at LaBar & Adams, P.A.