Non-compete clauses are important provisions in many employment contracts and agreements. The substantive re-employment rights of an employee may be severely impacted by such provisions. This is a relatively complicated area of the law, which involves trade secrets, proprietary information, business good will, customer lists and the concept of “legitimate business interests.” The Law Firm of Mark J. Berkowitz, P.A. can offer practical and legal solutions with respect to such provisions.
Florida law tends to view unfavorably any attempt to restrain competition or limit employment opportunities, yet a Fort Lauderdale non compete lawyer reports that a non-compete agreement may be lawful if appropriately written.
Non-compete agreements are becoming increasing popular in such areas as in connection with selling a business, in employment contracts and in certain shareholder agreements. To be enforceable under Florida law, however, the agreement must:
- Serve a legitimate business interest;
- Be necessary to protect a legitimate business interest; and
- Reasonable in time, area and scope.
Legitimate Business Interest
The first consideration a Fort Lauderdale non compete lawyer will evaluate is the type of business interest for which protection is sought. Such things as trade secrets and confidential information are typical examples of legitimate business interests. However, these evaluations are often a matter of fact. For example, if what a business claims to be trade secret is readily available on the Internet, any non-compete restriction would likely be voidable.
Reasonable in Time
Citing Florida statutory guidelines, a Fort Lauderdale non compete attorney indicates a non-competition agreement for employment is:
- Presumed reasonable if less than six months; and
- Presumed unreasonable if greater than two years.
These guidelines may be overcome by facts and circumstances particular in each case.
Reasonable in Area and Scope
Generally, a non-compete agreement will be unenforceable in a geographical area where the company does not conduct business. Similarly, the restrictive covenant will likely not apply to a different type of business.
Where a non-compete agreement is deemed by the courts to be overly broad, the court may void the agreement entirely or rewrite or reform it to be reasonable. To enforce a properly restrictive agreement, the court may issue an injunction. Under certain circumstances, the prevailing party may be able to recover damages.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Non-Compete Lawyer for Legal Advice
To understand your rights and obligations under a non-compete agreement, contact us. Call Mark J. Berkowitz, P.A., a Ft. Lauderdale employment law firm, at (954) 527-0570.