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Is my noncompetition agreement valid?

What if you have a very specific skill and this skill has the capacity to earn you a great deal of money? However, you have also signed a six-month noncompetition agreement with your employer, and you're worried that if you leave your job, you won't be able to earn a living for six months. Do you really need to follow the terms of your noncompetition agreement?

There are three things that will determine the validity of your noncompetition agreement in most cases:

The noncompetition agreement has to be "supported by consideration"

To be supported by consideration, you need to have received something in exchange for entering into the agreement. If you signed the agreement when you began your job, the receipt of employment could serve as "consideration" in this context. However, if you signed the noncompetition agreement during the course of employment, you need to have received something like a raise, bonus or some other benefit in exchange for signing it.

Legitimately protects the business interests of the employer

The noncompetition agreement also needs to protect a business interest of the employer such as confidential information or client lists.

The noncompetition agreement should be "reasonable."

If the agreement is unreasonable in terms of time frame, geography and scope, it might be valid. The most important thing to remember is that your noncompetition agreement should not render you unable to make a living and support yourself. If it does, you should be able to receive some kind of compensation package that covers you while you're not able to work.

No matter what the terms of your noncompetition agreement happen to be, you might want to investigate with a qualified employment contract attorney to determine if you are truly bound by the agreement.

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