Many employment contracts contain non-compete agreements. Many North Carolina employers use this type of agreement, which restricts your ability to do certain things either during or after your employment with the company. These contracts can be a nightmare if you do not know what you are signing.
Before you sign anything, contact a non-competition agreement review lawyer in Charlotte. The team at Gibbons Leis, PLLC can help you determine if your agreement is fair and even help you negotiate new terms. Schedule a review today: 704-612-0038.
Why do employers use non-compete agreements?
Employers have a great deal of incentive to require prospective employees to sign non-compete agreements. The following are the most common reasons for issuing non-compete agreements:
- They want to reduce possible competition from you or your future employers.
- They do not want to spend valuable time and money to train you, just to have you leave them and set up business in competition with them, using the knowledge and skills they taught you.
- They do not want you to quit working for them, and then work across the street for a competitor.
While these seem like valid reasons, a non-compete agreement can make it impossible for you to get a job in your field for months or even years after working for an employer.
When should I have a lawyer look at the non-compete agreement?
You should have a lawyer look at the non-compete agreement before you sign it. Having an employment lawyer review your agreement before you sign it is a smart move to protect your rights.
You can be sure that your employer sought legal advice when s/he drafted the agreement.
By running your agreement by an employment lawyer, you might be able to negotiate with your employer to change the terms or remove certain language from the non-compete agreement before you sign it.
I already signed the non-compete agreement. What can I do now?
Even if you have already signed the agreement, you should still have an employment lawyer review it, for several reasons:
- Even if you do not plan to ever leave your current employer, some non-compete agreements restrict side employment while you are working for your current employer. This can be problematic if your current job does not pay you enough to make ends meet.
- Your current job might end against your will. Downsizing, changes in the market and economic trends, and the whims of your employer might mean that your job ends without warning. This means you could find yourself without a job and an inability to get a new job in your field.
- If you want to leave your current job to work somewhere else or to become self-employed, a lawyer can help you avoid or minimize any legal problems the agreement might enforce.
Is a non-compete agreement enforceable?
Yes. Many people sign non-compete agreements without getting legal advice, because they mistakenly think the courts will not enforce non-compete agreements. This is not true.
Depending on the agreement, courts might enforce it just as written, only enforce portions of it, or refuse to enforce it entirely.
In most cases, the court will enforce an agreement if its clauses are reasonable to protect the employer’s business interests. For example, an employer can restrict you from doing the following:
- Working for a direct competitor
- Soliciting his/her clients for your new company or employer
- Taking employees with you when you leave
- Disclosing any “proprietary” information
While these clauses might be enforceable, the scope of the clauses might not be. Courts will consider whether the non-compete agreement contains restrictions that are overly broad in terms of geography, time, and/or the range of jobs that are prohibited.
It is not in your best interest to just hope the court will decide to refuse to enforce the agreement; we can review your agreement and determine what is and what is not enforceable. We will find any loopholes that might make the agreement unenforceable and negotiate to get it removed.
Is it possible to work somewhere else and comply with the non-compete agreement I signed?
It might be very easy to be in compliance with the terms of the non-compete agreement, but it can be just as easy to unwittingly violate the agreement. As an example, your non-compete agreement might include a geographic restriction.
You might be considering working at a new company or opening your own shop in one of several locations. If you understand exactly what your non-compete agreement restricts, you might be able to select a desired location that will not violate the terms of the agreement.
We can help you determine exactly what you can and cannot do under the terms of your agreement.
Where can I schedule an agreement review in Charlotte?
For help in the Charlotte area, call Gibbons Leis, PLLC We will review your non-compete agreement, determine its enforceability, and negotiate for any revisions.
Call us to schedule your agreement review and learn more about our fee structure today: 704-612-0038.