The experienced attorneys at the Byrne Law Group can provide you guidance and help if you are trapped in a restrictive or prohibitive non-compete agreement with a current or former employer. A non-compete agreement is a document in which an employee agrees not to compete against a former employer or other company, usually within a certain geographic area and usually for a certain amount of time (years).
Non-Compete Agreement Law Is Very Complex
Non-competition agreements are very complex, as is the law governing them. If you believe you might be subject to a non-compete agreement, it is important that you speak to an experienced non-compete attorney at the Byrne Law Group. Most people misunderstand non-compete agreements, and very few non-competition agreements are written properly.
Non-Competition Laws In Florida
Florida law permits non-compete contracts to be enforced – e.g. a person who is bound by a non-compete agreement may be prohibited from engaging in competitive conduct as stated in the agreement. If someone tells you non-competes are not enforceable, don't listen to them! Non-compete agreements can be enforced in Florida, if certain conditions are met. And if you have moved to Florida from another state, the other state's non-compete laws may govern the non-compete agreement!
Most Non-Compete Agreements Unenforceable
Although Florida law does permit non-competition agreements to be enforced, most non-compete agreements are written the wrong way and are actually unenforceable! To enforce a non-compete agreement under Florida law, certain conditions must be met. Because most employers try to "save money" by not hiring a lawyer and write a non-compete agreement themselves, or download something off the internet, or use an old agreement someone gave them, chances are the non-compete agreement is unenforceable.
Non-compete restrictive covenants, or non-compete clauses, which are designed mainly to punish an employee for seeking employment elsewhere are not enforceable in Florida. To enforce a non-compete, an employer must demonstrate a real and legitimate business interest worth protecting.
Legitimate Business Interest
Florida law recognizes certain legitimate business interests that employers may attempt to protect with a restrictive non-compete agreement. These include:
- Knowledge of a business "trade secret" as defined in Florida law;
- Valuable confidential business or professional information that isn't a trade secret but is still valuable to the business;
- Substantial relationships with specific prospective or existing customers, patients or clients;
- Customer, patient or client goodwill associated with
- An ongoing business or professional practice, by way of trade name, trade mark, service mark, or "trade dress."
- A specific geographic location; or
- A specific marketing area or trade area.
- Extraordinary specialized training
Under Florida Statutes, courts will only enforce a non-compete agreement where the employer pleads and proves that the restriction is reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate business which is the basis for the non-compete agreement.
If an employer has proved that the restriction is necessary, the employee must now show that the restraint is overbroad, overlong, or otherwise unnecessary to protect the employer's interests. For example, non-compete agreements which are longer than 2 years are usually unreasonable and not enforceable. Unreasonable geographic restrictions (e.g. the employee may not work in this universe) are also unlikely to be upheld.
Discuss Your Non-Compete Situation For Free
Call 813-413-6565 today to discuss your non-compete questions with the experienced team at the Byrne Law Group for FREE.