How to Tell if Your Loudoun County Non-Compete Agreement is Enforceable
Virginia is one of the many states that recognize non-compete agreements. Loudoun County, in particular, sees a lot of these types of non-competition contracts given a large number of professional and technology-related companies in the area.
But what exactly is a non-compete agreement? It is a type of restrictive covenant where an employee agrees not to work in competition with an employer. It can be its own standalone contract or it may be a clause in a larger employment contract.
In many situations, the employee signs a non-compete agreement on the first day on the job as a condition of employment and does not give it a second thought. It then comes into play when the departing employee looks for a new job but finds one that is potentially in direct competition with their former employer.
But just because an employee in Loudoun County agrees to a noncompete clause or agreement does not automatically mean it is enforceable. Virginia courts will enforce these contracts, but only if they meet certain requirements of specificity, fairness, and reasonableness. Speak with a seasoned non-compete agreement attorney at the Spiggle Law Firm to learn about how to tell if your Loudoun County non-compete agreement is enforceable.
Elements of an Enforceable Non-compete Agreement in Loudoun County
The burden of enforcing a non-compete agreement falls on the employer. To prove the enforceability of a non-compete agreement, the employer must prove that the agreement:
- Is narrowly written and protects a legitimate business interest
- Does not unfairly or unreasonably prevent the employee from earning a living
- Is not against public policy
Put another way, a Loudoun County non-compete agreement is valid if it protects an actual business interest of the employer and does so in a way that is reasonable and consistent with the spirit of Virginia law.
A court will make its determination of enforceability by looking at what job activities are being restricted, how long they are being restricted and where the restrictions will be applied. Unfortunately, there are very few definite rules for deciding if a non-compete agreement is unreasonable. This is particularly evident when it comes to the non-compete agreement’s duration and geographical scope.
Non-Compete Agreement’s Duration, Geographical Scope, and Job Restrictions
How to tell if your Loudoun County non-compete agreement is enforceable due to lasting too long or covering too wide of a geographical area will usually be decided in relation to each other. For example, a court is more likely to accept a longer duration if it is accompanied by a smaller graphical enforcement area and vice versa.
When it comes to the time and geographical limits of a non-compete agreement, a very rough guideline states that the agreement will be found to be reasonable if it is in effect for one year or less and is limited to the geographical territory where the former employer regularly conducts business.
The only real consistent rule about the enforceability of a non-compete agreement in Loudoun County concerns the types of jobs restricted by the agreement. If an agreement prevents the employee from working with any competitor, regardless of the type of job, a court will probably find it to be unenforceable because it is overbroad.
For instance, if the employee used to work as the president of the company, and the language of the non-compete agreement prevents that employee from working with a competitor even as a janitor or secretary, then it is likely that the non-compete agreement will be overbroad and unenforceable.
This is not to say that these positions are not worthy occupations for a former business executive. Rather, it is hard for an employer to justify how prohibiting a former executive working as a janitor or secretary with a competitor would protect a legitimate business interest.
If the former employer is afraid the former employee might share protected trade secret information, even as a janitor, it can have the employee sign a nondisclosure agreement preventing the disclosure of sensitive information.
How a Knowledgeable Loudoun County Non-Compete Agreement Attorney Could Help
If you work in Loudoun County and have just been given a noncompete agreement to sign, but are not sure what to do, consider contacting us at Spiggle Law Firm. How to tell if your Loudoun County non-compete agreement is enforceable may be difficult, however, a team of accomplished attorneys could help you.
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