When a company’s secrets to success are exposed, it can put the business at a financial disadvantage. To protect valuable company assets, trade secrets, and proprietary information, many employers may have employees sign a contract not to compete. A non-compete agreement is a type of contract between an employer and an employee that limits an employee’s ability to work for a competitor or otherwise compete with the employer if and when the employee departs.
Most companies stand to benefit from the enforcement of a non-compete agreement, but they can be harmful to employees who are seeking new employment within their trade or business. A Virginia non-compete agreement lawyer is committed to helping employees ensure non-compete agreements are fairly drafted and enforced. If you are concerned about the fine lines in your contract, consider meeting with one of our experienced employment attorneys at The Spiggle Law Firm.
Elements of a Valid Contract
A non-compete agreement is a type of contract and therefore must meet the requirements of a valid contract to be enforceable. The three basic elements of a contract are offer, acceptance, and consideration. For non-compete agreements, the consideration component is the most widely contested issue.
Consideration is the benefit you and your employer are receiving under the contract. Issues in enforceability may arise where continued employment is the only consideration. Under contract law, an employee may be able to invalidate a non-compete agreement by proving that the terms of the contract cause duress, unconscionability, incapacity, or coercion.
Can Another State’s Laws Govern the Contract?
Non-compete agreements, like other contracts, often include a choice of law clause which determines which state’s laws govern the contract. It is possible that a non-compete agreement executed in Virginia could be subject to the laws of another state. It is uncertain, however, how enforceable these clauses are. Each state has different laws regarding non-compete agreements, so it is important to consult with a Virginia non-compete agreement attorney to clarify your rights under the contract.
Non-compete agreements typically contain provisions regarding:
- The length of time: how long the agreement will be upheld
- Geographic location: how close the employee can physically remain after leaving to reduce competition
- Activities of the employee: what type of work an employee can perform for another company
Enforcement of Non-Compete Agreements in Virginia
Virginia law may limit the enforceability of non-compete agreements in many situations because Virginia courts recognize that non-compete agreements could be detrimental to employees. The terms of non-compete agreements vary – some may be more restrictive than others. An extremely restrictive non-compete agreement could leave you with limited opportunities to continue earning a living.
Non-compete agreements may only be valid in Virginia if the restrictions are not overly oppressive and are reasonably necessary to protect a legitimate business interest. If a non-compete restricts an employee from working statewide or nationwide, sets a time limit, or applies to a broad range of activities, the agreement will likely be seen as overly burdensome. The terms of the agreement should reflect only what is necessary to protect the business and not restrict the employee’s ability to get another job. Additionally, the terms of non-compete agreements should not violate public policy.
When there is ambiguity in the non-compete, states such as Virginia generally consider the employee’s interests and Virginia non-compete agreement lawyers may be able to interpret the terms in your favor. There is no clear rule for what provisions the court will construe as unenforceable, so consulting with one of our experienced legal professionals can provide valuable insight.
Benefits of Working with a Virginia Non-Compete Agreements Attorney
If you are a federal or private employee and have signed a non-compete agreement or have questions about a proposed agreement, our legal team is available to answer your questions. A knowledgeable Virginia non-compete agreement lawyer at The Spiggle Law Firm could provide you with the advice you need to take advantage of favorable options. If you would like your case reviewed by our attorneys, click here for a free online review.