We are often asked “are non-compete agreements enforceable”? The problem is, we are usually asked this question when an employee who is subject to a non-compete is leaving his or her employment for “greener pastures”. The notion that said employee might have assigned away his/her right to work in the same industry with the same customers for a period of years is something they simply are unwilling to accept.
When asked why they didn’t come to us BEFORE signing a the non-compete to discuss its ramifications, the answer almost always is: “I didn’t think it could be enforced”!
Wrong answer. Non-compete Agreements, provided 1) they are supported by proper consideration (giving you a job is usually sufficient) 2) are reasonable in scope (i.e., the territory they cover which is usually consistent with the territory the employee worked) and 3) are reasonable in duration (1-3 yrs. is “normal” depending upon the industry involved), are legal and enforceable.
Only two (2) states in the nation have “outlawed” non-competes (California and N. Dakota) while Mass. has such a ban under consideration.
If your employer wants a non-compete, negotiate for a short duration, limited territory or best of all, no non-compete at all. Before you sign, consult your attorney.