Depending on the nature of your business, you may require employees to sign a non-compete agreement or covenant not to compete. At its very basic, this legal contract is intended to bar an employee from working for your competition for a specified duration after leaving the organization.
Florida is one of the states that supports non-compete agreements. However, for a non-compete agreement to be enforceable in the Sunshine State, it must meet the following standards:
- It must protect a legitimate business interest – you cannot ask your employee to sign a non-compete contract just because they feel like it.
- It must be reasonable in nature and scope – a non-compete agreement must contain specific provisions to be enforceable.
So when can a non-compete clause be voided in Florida?
Under Florida law, an employee can challenge a non-compete clause on the following grounds:
If its terms are unreasonable
Florida courts will not enforce a non-compete clause that does not have time, geographic area and activity restrictions. Such an agreement will be deemed unreasonable. For instance, a non-compete agreement that bars an employee from working for your competitor for six months or one year may be termed as reasonable. However, if the non-compete specifies that the employee must never work for your competitor indefinitely after leaving, the court may consider such an agreement unreasonable.
If the so-called “confidential business interest” is available to the public
Non-compete contracts are designed to protect business interests such as client data. However, such data must not be publicly available anywhere else. In situations where the so-called confidential business information or interest is publicly available, then the non-compete contract that aims to protect it may be voided. For instance, the court will not enforce a non-compete clause that aims to protect business sales leads that are extracted from the industry directory, online or other public resources.
Non-compete agreements are becoming increasingly common in the employment space. Find out how you can protect your rights and interests from an unfair non-compete contract.