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Non-Compete Agreements And The Law

Non-Compete Agreements And The Law

Some employers may require new employees to enter into non-competition agreements before beginning work, and such agreements usually take effect after the employer-employee relationship has ended. Employers may require non-competition agreements for a variety of reasons, including protection of trade secrets or goodwill.

However, courts generally disapprove of non-competition agreements as limitations on a former employee’s right to earn a living. Therefore, when made the subject of a legal dispute, non-competition agreements are closely scrutinized in the court system.

Legal Requirements for Non-Competition Agreements

In order to be considered valid, a non-competition agreement must:
• Be supported by consideration at the time it is signed;
• Protect a legitimate business interest of the employer; and
• Be reasonable in scope, geography, and time.

Non-competition agreements must generally be supported by valid consideration — the employee must receive something of value in exchange for the promise to refrain from competition. If an employee signs a non-competition agreement prior to beginning employment, the employment itself will be sufficient consideration for the promise not to compete. However, if an employee signs a non-competition agreement after beginning employment, the mere promise of continued employment will not be considered valid consideration for the promise. In this case, the employee must receive something else of value in exchange for the promise. Such additional consideration may consist of a promotion or other additional benefit that was not part of the original employment agreement.

Protection of Legitimate Business Interests

The goodwill developed by an employer in terms of customer relations is an asset, so an employer may use a non-competition agreement to prevent a former employee from capitalizing on that goodwill and competing with the original employer. Likewise, an employer may use a non-competition agreement to protect its confidential information. Generally, in order for the information to be entitled to protection, the employer must show that it took reasonable measures to keep the information secret, and that the information gives the employer a competitive advantage.

Reasonableness is a Key to the Agreement

In deciding whether to enforce a non-competition agreement, the court will balance the need to protect the employer’s legitimate business interests with any burden that enforcement of the agreement would place on the employee.

Non-competition agreements must be reasonable in duration and scope. The reasonableness of the duration of the agreement will depend on the specific facts of each case. For instance, if the non-competition agreement is designed to protect confidential information, the duration should be no longer than the time for which the information has value.

The geographical area covered by the agreement must also be reasonable considering the circumstances. This will depend greatly on the services provided by the employee, and the importance of the services to the employer’s business. Generally, courts will not allow a non-competition agreement to prevent an employee from working in a geographical area where the employer does not do business.

If a court finds that a non-competition agreement is overbroad, it may narrow the scope and duration of the agreement and enforce it as modified, or it may refuse to enforce the agreement entirely if it finds that it was clearly intended to prevent legitimate business competition by the former employee.

Non Compete Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need legal help with non-compete Agreements in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

Ascent Law LLC

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Michael Anderson

About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.