Like many other savvy Florida business owners, you chose to use non-compete agreements as part of your hiring process. You hoped that these documents would provide you and your company protection from having an employee leave your company, only to go work for a competitor in your area. While you likely saw nothing overly restrictive about the agreement, you may now be facing a dispute with a former employee over its enforceability.
This type of dispute can bring your attention away from other important business matters, but it is still something you need to take seriously. After all, if the employee’s attempts to get out of the agreement are successful, that person could work for a nearby competitor and use information learned at your business to gain success.
Is your agreement valid?
One of the first steps you may want to take is to review the agreement to ensure that it is valid. Some details to consider include the following:
- Did the agreement involve all necessary parties, such as you, the company and the employee?
- Did the agreement include something of value provided by the parties?
- Were the parties involved in the agreement all of sound mind?
- Did the agreement involve activity considered legal?
If you can answer yes to these questions, you are in a good position. However, it is also important to determine whether your agreement complied with other, more specific terms in accordance with state law. For example, did the prohibited area of employment and length of prohibition comply with state law?
If a former employee is attempting to fight your non-compete agreement, the person may argue that the terms are unreasonable for the area or type of business involved. As a result, you may want to prepare to defend against this type of argument.
In the event that the former employee violates the agreement by going to work for a competitor or opening a competitive business of his or her own, a breach of contract may have occurred. If so, you may have reason to take legal action of your own. This type of ordeal could quickly become complicated, so it would undoubtedly be in your interests and the interests of your company to discuss with your legal counsel the possible options for dealing with the matter most effectively.