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Sterling Employment Law

Is your noncompete agreement legally binding?

If you signed a noncompete agreement as a part of your employment, but you don't work for the same company anymore, it's understandable why you might want to "get out of" your noncompete agreement. In some cases, your noncompete might not be legally valid. In other cases, it will be.

Here are a few situations in which your noncompete agreement might not be valid:

The noncompete is far too restrictive

Noncompete agreements exist to protect employers from individuals who want to try and steal their trade secrets and customers. However, they are not meant to put people out of work and render someone unable to do his or her job anymore.

There are many ways a noncompete could be too restrictive. For example, most noncompetes that extend into the category of over two years in length are suspect. Also, noncompetes that cover massive geographical regions are also unfair.

You can't enforce it under local state laws

It's not uncommon for employers to create a noncompete that isn't valid under local state laws. These completely unenforceable noncompetes could be viewed as a waste of time. The problem is, many employees end up assuming that they are enforceable and they abide by them to the employees' financial detriment.

The noncompete was misleading or confusing

If an employee was misled into signing a noncompete or if the wording was unclear and confusing, it might not hold up in court.

Before you take an action that could be in violation of a legally binding contract -- and before you propel yourself into the throes of a legal dispute -- make sure you fully understand your legal rights in relation to your employment contract and any noncompete clauses it contains.

Source: Monster, "3 signs your noncompete agreement won't stand up in court," accessed May 11, 2018

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