Usually, you are free to leave an employer to work for another employer; however, your employer may have you sign a written contract preventing you from working for a competitor. For professionals, executives, scientists, engineers, and salespeople working in highly competitive industries in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, employers often have employees sign these “covenants not to compete” at the start of the employment relationship.
If you are subject to a non-compete agreement, it may not necessarily be enforceable against you. State courts do not look favorably upon an employer’s ability to prevent an employee from pursue his or her life calling. In determining whether a covenant not to compete is enforceable, courts could consider the following:
- Does the employer have a legitimate business interest that allows for a restraint on competition?
- Is the geographic limitation in the non-compete agreement reasonable?
- How long are you precluded from taking a job with a competitor or working in the same field?
- What job duties or activities are you precluded from doing for a competitor or in your field of expertise?
If you are subject to a non-compete agreement and want to pursue your career with a new company in the same or similar field, an experienced attorney will be able to advise you on whether the non-compete agreement is enforceable and present various options.
The attorneys at Lopez & Wu have expertise in counseling individuals on the enforceability of non-compete agreements. We have been successful in assisting employees in negotiating with former employer to obtain waivers or challenging the validity of such agreements.