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Learn all about noncompete agreements

Employers often require their employees to sign noncompete agreements to protect their companies from unfair competition after an employee leaves the company. These noncompete agreements may require an employee to not work in the same industry for a period of months, or even years, after leaving their current employment. Are these agreements fair? And, more importantly, can they be enforced?

Ultimately, noncompete agreements are not intended to leave professionals unable to earn a living. If the noncompete agreement ends up destroying an employee's ability to put food on the table, for example, a Florida court might render it invalid.

A noncompete agreement is, nevertheless, a binding agreement. As such, courts may be inclined to honor them if it is clear that the employee understood all the agreed-upon terms and conditions when employment commenced.

That said, it is not uncommon for a noncompete agreement's enforceability to be called into question. There is no simple answer to whether or not a noncompete will be legally enforceable.

Florida courts often examine noncompete agreements, as well as their terms, in order to determine if the agreements are reasonable or not. For example, if an employer tries to dictate that an employee cannot work in his or her chosen field in any location whatsoever, this is clearly unreasonable.

On the other hand, if the employer demands that the employee does not approach any of the employer's customers for a period of six months following employment, this would be a more reasonable demand.

If you signed a noncompete agreement as an employee, you may want to look at it from a legal perspective before you try to break the agreement. If you disregard a noncompete clause without solid grounds to do so, you could find yourself in legal trouble later.

Source: The Balance, "What Is a Noncompete Agreement?," Alison Doyle, accessed Feb. 01, 2018

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