A “non-compete” and other “restrictive covenant” agreements are contractual agreements where an employee promises not to compete with a business during employment, or for a defined time and in a specified location post-employment. A non-compete can prevent employees, contractors, licensees, and distributors from becoming a direct competition to a former employer.
Noncompete and other restrictive covenants take four primary forms:
However, you should know that many companies use a one-size-fits-all with their non-compete agreements, which can deem them ineffective and unenforceable in the eyes of the law. At FGBO Law, we specialize in employee rights and are here to help employees fight unfair restrictive covenants.
In 1996, Florida’s non-compete statute was rewritten. State legislators enacted a very pro-employer non-compete statute. The basic precepts of the statue are pretty straightforward. Still, you need to understand the legal standards and enforcement considerations.
To read Florida law (F.S. §542.335) click here. It says restrictive covenants are acceptable and enforceable only if certain requirements are met:
Non-compete statutes differ from state to state, and Florida has a very pro-employer non-compete statute.
When a company does intra-state business, oftentimes it will include a “choice of law” or “venue” provision, which states the if litigation should arise, it will take place in the location of employers choosing.
However, courts in New York, Illinois, Alabama, and Georgia have refused to enforce the “choice of law” or “venue” provision because of Florida’s pro-employer bias.
In each of these courts’ decisions, they pointed to F.S. §542.335 (1)(g)(1). This paragraph of the non-compete statute says, “Shall not consider any individualized economic or other hardship that might be caused to the person against whom enforcement is sought.”
Courts in other states have proven resistant to enforce Florida law on non-compete agreements because of the focus on the employer’s interests.
The strength of a non-compete is somewhat dependent on an employer’s ability and willingness to enforce it. Enforcing a non-compete takes time and money. Moreover, employer enforcement consistency is vital to ensure agreements retain their enforceability.
Many employers overlook the need for consistency when deciding whether to have employees sign non-compete agreements. These companies may have a harder time finding the resources to prosecute non-compete agreements consistently. A failure to take action can expose future attempts at enforcement to claims of retaliation or discrimination.
While businesses can and should protect itself against loss of legitimate business interests that could harm the company by implementing non-compete agreements, you should consult with a Tampa employment attorney before you sign a restrictive covenant of any kind. Such contracts are specifically provided for by Florida law, and employers are given a wide berth in what the agreement can say, but that does not mean it’s always enforceable.
If you think your non-compete is unfair, remember employers must draft agreements, so they meet the legal requirements for each business.
Many employers don’t construct their non-compete agreements properly, so the agreement you signed may not be unenforceable.
At FGBO Law, we focus on employee rights.
We would love to speak with you about how we can help you fight an unjust non-compete agreement call us at (727) 254-5255 or contact us to set up an initial consultation.
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