As an employment law attorney I’m often asked if it’s possible to break a non-compete agreement. And, like any good employment lawyer, my answer is always “Possibly.”
Non-compete agreements are legal documents that bar employees from working for competing businesses in a given area for months or years after leaving an employer. They have become increasingly common. Their goal is to prevent employees from taking information, employees or clients when they leave their employers and using them to benefit their new employer Let’s face it, most of us look for jobs in the fields we are most experienced in. That means that your next job will, indeed, most likely be for a competitor. But, what if your employer has a non-compete agreement? How do you move on to your next job?
Here are a few tips that may allow you to avoid being tied up by a non-compete agreement:
- Read the agreement carefully to see if you can show that the new position would not violate its precise terms.
- Look for ways to demonstrate that your former employer doesn’t have a “legitimate business interest” in enforcing the non-compete.
- Demonstrate that the non-compete agreement was unreasonably broad in its restrictions of when, where and how you could pursue your career.
- Show that the employer violated your employment contract.
- Show that there was no consideration for the non-compete agreement.
- Prove that you never signed the non-compete agreement.
As an employment law attorney, my experience tells me that each case is different. There are a number of strategies and circumstances that can open the door to breaking a non-compete agreement. The bottom line is that breaking a non-compete agreement may be possible with careful attention to details.