When you first started working for your employer and they asked you to sign a non-compete agreement, you did so eagerly: You wanted the job and figured that a:) you weren’t likely to want to leave, and b:) you’d heard that non-competes were largely unenforceable. Now time has gone by and you’re desperate to move on to bigger and better things, but in the ensuing years you’ve seen management pursue departing employees with a vengeance. Are you stuck for good? Do you have to find a new career?
Though rumors abound about the unenforceability of non-compete agreements, the truth is that outside of states that have banned their use, employers do manage to tie the hands and feet of those who have signed on the dotted line. But that doesn’t mean that you’re completely stuck. With the help of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney, there are a number of ways that you can get out of your agreement and free yourself of your non-compete shackles.
Prove Breach of Contract by Your Employer
Though employers are quick to accuse employees of breach of contract, they seldom pay attention to whether they have adhered to all of the terms that they agreed to themselves. Failure to fulfill terms such as compensation, insurance, benefits or promotions may mean that they voided the contract, thus alleviating you of all of your obligations.
Prove Lack of Interest to Enforce
In order for a non-compete agreement to be enforceable, an employer has to prove that adherence to the contract promotes their business interests. If an employee’s departure for another job is not in conflict or competition with the company and doesn’t jeopardize trade secrets or goodwill, then the company will be hard pressed to justify pursuing legal action against you.
Contract is Unreasonably Long
Though companies are permitted to protect themselves and their interests for a reasonable period of time, contracts that dictate extended periods of non-competition are generally considered invalid.
What the Company Claims is Proprietary or Confidential is Widely Available
Though many companies profess the need for a non-compete agreement in order to protect their trade secrets or confidential information, when that information consists of prospect lists that are publicly available for purchase or ingredients or techniques that have been widely circulated, their argument becomes difficult to defend.
The Terms of the Non-Compete Work Against the Public Good
If you are a professional with highly specific skills that serve the public good, such as a surgeon or a scientist, and there is a dearth of individuals with your talent or training, then you non-compete is likely to be struck down because it prevents the public from benefiting from your services.
It is easy to get swept up in the excitement and promise of a new job and to go forward with signing a non-compete agreement without considering its long-term ramifications. When an agreement becomes unreasonably binding and you’re looking for a way to mitigate its affects, your best option is to seek help from an experienced attorney who can help you find the most effective argument that will free you of its terms. The attorneys at the Philadelphia law firm of Bochetto & Lentz have extensive experience in successfully helping our clients to get out of non-compete agreements, and we can assist you as well. Call us today to see how we can help.