It is standard practice in many industries for employers to have staff sign noncompete agreements. Companies create these types of employment contracts to protect their trade secrets and clients, but the agreements can have the unfortunate effect of seriously limiting an employee’s ability to pursue other career opportunities or otherwise advance. If you have found yourself in such a situation, there are several things you may be able to do.
The following are three common challenges to noncompete agreements that you may be able to invoke if your employer has made you sign one.
1. Lack of signature
It seems quite obvious that a legal contract must have your signature in order to be valid, but small errors such as a lack of signature could be the basis of your case. If your employer never obtained your signature–or if the appropriate personnel never provided a signature, either–you are legally off the hook. Look for other small details that may have been overlooked that may similarly free you from obligation.
2. Unfulfilled responsibilities
A noncompete agreement obligates both parties–you and your employer–to fulfill certain responsibilities. You have likely upheld your portion of the bargain, but you should read your contract to ensure that your employer has done the same. If, for example, the agreement indicates that your employer must provide specific training and this did not occur, you may be able to challenge the contract based on your employers’ failure to fulfill its responsibilities.
3. Change in relationship
Most noncompete agreements indicate specific parameters for an employee’s role, responsibilities and acceptable behavior. If your role in the company changes, it is quite possible that your original noncompete agreement will no longer be valid. Any change in position or major responsibilities should necessitate a new noncompete agreement, but employers often do not keep contracts updated.