Ways To Beat Non Compete Agreements In Florida
Sometimes we can find ourselves pressured into making a quick decision with our employer. If your existing employer approached you about signing a non compete agreement or a potential employer you’re looking to work for asks you to sign one, you may do so without much thought. However, once out of the tense moment, you may regret signing the non compete agreement.
While it’s not legal to go back on your word, it is legal to fight aspects of the non compete agreement that are not reasonable. At the end of the day, a judge will be determining what is considered reasonable and what’s not. However, you can work with a Miami non compete lawyer to assess what’s likely to not be enforced in a court of law. You may be surprised to learn that there are various ways that you can beat a non compete agreement in Florida.
The Contract Restricts Public Safety
If you work in a highly specialized career in the medical or healthcare industry, it’s very unlikely that an employer can enforce the non compete agreement. This way out is mainly aimed at nurses, doctors, and surgeons. If there is an existing shortage of people in your specialty, then a judge won’t likely enforce a non compete agreement regarding working in a specific geographical location. This is due to the fact that public safety is on the line.
The Restricted Information Is Widely Available To the Public
The whole point of a non compete agreement is to protect specific interest areas of a business. For example, an agreement may be signed to protect an employee against sharing the employer’s secret client source. However, the employer must prove in a court of law that their source is actually secret. In many cases, leads that come in from public sources like the internet, phone books, and so forth are not considered secret. Therefore, the employer may not enforce the non compete agreement if it’s poised to cover public, not secret client sources.
The Agreement Time Restriction Is Too Long
While each non compete agreement will have a set amount of time that the employee may not practice business of a similar nature, it must be considered reasonable. Any Miami non compete lawyer can reveal that most judges will rule in favor of the employee if the agreement is for longer than two years. In most cases, an agreement of up to 6 months is considered reasonable. For a non compete agreement to be enforced for a lengthy time period, the employer must prove that they have a protectable interest that their business depends on for its livelihood.
There’s No Legitimate Interest To Enforce
Non compete agreements are intended to protect valuable business interests. An employer is unlikely to succeed in enforcing their non compete agreement if there is nothing of valuable interest that needs to be protected. Many times employers will be found overreaching their legitimate business interest. To help solidify what’ legitimate and what’s not, let’s review a list of commonly accepted legitimate reasons for a non compete agreement:
- Specialized Training
- Substantial Client Relationships
- Trade Secrets
- Valuable Professional / Business Information
- Goodwill Association With Area
In all the events above, the employer has a legitimate reason to ask for and enforce a non compete agreement. To further your understanding of what’s legitimate and what’s not, let’s take a look at a few different examples of what is not valid. In general, low-level employees like clerical employees or receptionists are not usually eligible for non compete contracts as they don’t usually possess the information above.
Let’s say there is an employee who works as a computer programmer for an accountant. When they leave, they work as a programmer for medical software. The accountant can’t enforce a non compete agreement in this instance because the programmer is not working in the accounting field. This would be a big overreach on the end of the employer.
The geographical area is a big concern as well. Employers can’t restrict former employees from offering similar services in an area they don’t operate in. This also holds true in areas that the former employer phased out operations in.
Breach Of Contract By The Employer
One surefire way that many former employees use to beat a non compete agreement with their former employer is by identifying duties in the contract that were breached. It’s not uncommon for an employer to include other conditions alongside the non compete terms in an employment contract. If your contract covers many other areas than just the non compete agreement, you may have an easy way out of the contract.
Your lawyer should go through the contract and read all of the obligations of the employer. Some other example obligations that may be found in the same contract include pay rate and insurance responsibilities. If your former employer breached any of these, then the contract is null and void. For example, if they failed to pay all the compensation that was due to you according to the terms of the contract, that breaches the entire contract. They can no longer enforce the non compete agreement because it was included with the other contractual obligations.
Questionable Business Activity
While this one isn’t overly common, it can still be a lifesaver when it applies to your individual situation. If a business is found by a court of law to have questionable or illegal business activities, they can decide to eliminate agreements that the business has, including non compete agreements with employees and former employees. Questionable or illegal business activity may include tax fraud.
If you signed a non compete agreement with your employer or former employer, you might now be regretting it. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to beat the agreement. You should talk with a lawyer to determine your list of options and how you’re going to proceed from here.