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Can I challenge my noncompete agreement?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Executive Employment, Restrictive Covenants

Noncompete agreements are meant to help better ensure the safety of a company’s intellectual property. Trade secrets and customer lists are not to leave the workplace with an employee who goes to work for a competitor. In some cases, an employer’s use of noncompete agreement goes too far. There are restrictions that serve to help curb an employer’s effort to overutilize a noncompete. Those who are considering leaving their current employer and are concerned about the potential impact of a noncompete are wise to get a basic understanding of the limitations of these agreements.

Is my noncompete agreement valid?

The first step is to review the agreement for validity. In some cases, the agreement may not survive a challenge and you can consider changing positions without much threat of legal recourse from the current employer. Get a firm grasp on these requirements and consider seeking expert advice before moving forward.

There are generally three key elements to a valid noncompete agreement:

  1. Duration and Scope: Noncompete agreements must have reasonable time limits and cover a geographical area that’s relevant to the employer’s business interests.
  2. Consideration: A noncompete must offer something of value in exchange for your agreement to restrict your future employment options. This could be a job offer, promotion, or other significant benefit.
  3. Protectable interest: Employers can generally only enforce a noncompete to protect legitimate business interests, such as confidential information, trade secrets, or customer relationships.

Pennsylvania courts scrutinize the use of a noncompete for reasonableness and may invalidate agreements that are overly broad or oppressive. The balance between the employer’s protectable interests and the employee’s right to work is a critical factor.

Recent legal trends show a push towards limiting the enforceability of a noncompete, reflecting a preference for free trade and employment. This could have a huge impact on employment in Pennsylvania.

What if I want to challenge a noncompete?

It is generally wise to consult with an attorney who specializes in employment law to assess the validity of the noncompete agreement before moving forward. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate the terms of the noncompete with your employer, either at the outset of the agreement or when you are considering leaving.

It is important to understand the potential legal and financial ramifications of violating the noncompete, including the risk of litigation and damages. Noncompete agreements can significantly impact your career trajectory. Stay informed about your rights and obligations, and always seek professional legal advice when entering into or challenging these agreements. As the legal landscape evolves, staying ahead of changes in noncompete enforceability will be important for maintaining your competitive edge in Pennsylvania’s business environment.