How legally binding are non-compete agreements? Have you signed one or have you asked your local Tampa lawyer about them? Well in Florida, they are actually usually enforceable. So, next time you have to sign one or have someone sign one, speak with your lawyer in Tampa to see what course of action you must take. There are basically three general rules to follow.
Written and Signed
There are some general guidelines each non-compete agreement should adhere to. They must of course be written and signed by the employee. This is pretty standard since two parties are entering into an agreement. Have your lawyer in Tampa help draft up the agreement.
Legitimate Business Interest
Trade secrets, confidential information, customer relationships, and specialized training all fall into this category. For example, if an employee leaves the company and takes a list of clients with them in order to transfer them to a new business, this can be seen as grounds for an injunction by the courts. This also applies to bringing in trade secrets or confidential information to a new employer. The courts will usually enforce the non-compete agreements if it sees these types of actions taken. An important side note is that if the former employee argues that they will not be able to live if the non-compete agreement is enforced; the courts then tend to ignore this argument when deciding on enforcement. This is because the issue was addressed by the Florida Legislature in order to avoid economic hardship as a reason for breaching the agreement.
Time and Place
A non-compete agreement cannot last forever. It has to be within a reasonable time. The general consensus is that any agreement lasting more than 2 years is unreasonable. Location restrictions are dealt with on a case-by-case basis. These are up to the courts to decide because of many different factors that come into play. For example, many courts usually enforce this rule within a certain area of where the former employer does business. They can be by counties, or geographic areas.
All this being said, there are times when a non-compete agreement won’t be enforced. If the former employee isn’t harming the former employer’s business, then it tends to be difficult to enforce. No harm, no foul.