Offices:
  • West Palm Beach
  • Lake Worth
  • Boca Raton
West Palm Beach Probate Attorney
561-571-8970 Call Us Today

Understanding Florida Law Regarding Non-Compete Agreements

An increasing number of employers are asking new employees to sign non-compete agreements, The New York Times reports. While non-compete agreements have traditionally been used in fields with tightly held secrets—such as technology, sales and some corporations—they are now cropping up in a wide variety of other areas as well. Employees in Florida should be aware of what a non-compete agreement is and what Florida law says about non-compete agreements.

The laws regarding non-compete agreements vary from state to state. Two states—California and North Dakota—bannon-compete agreements entirely, while other states—including Florida—place some limits on them.

“Non-compete Agreement” Defined

In simple terms, a non-compete agreement is a contract in which an employee agrees not to compete with the employer—often by starting a competing business or going to work for a competitor—for a stated period of time after termination of employment.

In Florida, a non-compete agreement is also known as a “restrictive covenant.

Florida Law Regarding Non-compete Agreements

Per Section 542.335 of the Florida Statutes, a court will not enforce a non-compete agreement unless it is in writing and signed by the employee.

A non-compete agreement must also be reasonable in time, area and line of business.

Further, the employer who is seeking enforcement of a non-compete agreement must establish that one or more legitimate business interests justifying the non-compete agreement exist. A non-compete agreement that is not supported by a legitimate business interest is unlawful, void and unenforceable.

“Legitimate business interests” include, but are not limited to, the following, per the statute:

  • Trade secrets, as defined in Section 688.002(4) of the Florida Statutes;
  • Valuable confidential professional or business information that does not qualify as a trade secret;
  • Substantial relationships with specific prospective or existing customers, patients or clients;
  • Customer, patient, or client goodwill associated with:

o   An ongoing business or professional practice, by way of trade name, trademark, service mark, or “trade dress”;

o   A specific geographic location; or

o   A specific trade or marketing area.

  • Specialized or extraordinary training.

The employer who is seeking to enforce the non-compete agreement must also establish that the language in the non-compete agreement is reason­ably necessary to protect his or her legitimate business interest(s).

The statute also provides several rebuttable presumptions regarding how long the enforcement period for a non-compete agreement should last.

Challenging a Non-compete Agreement

The Florida Bar Journal outlines some ways in which an employee can challenge a non-compete agreement.

Per the statute, an employee may challenge a non-compete agreement by estab­lishing that the agreement is overbroad, overlong or otherwise not reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate business interests of the employer. In such cases, a court shall modify the restraint and grant only the relief reasonably necessary to protect such interest(s).

Those statutory defenses are not the only grounds for challenging a non-competeagreement, however. Common law challenges to non-compete agreements also exist, including looking for a material breach on the part of the employer.

Employees face many questions and concerns when it comes to non-compete agreements. If you are an employee in Florida who is considering signing or has signed a non-compete agreement, consult with an attorney at the West Palm Beach based Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. for help.

 

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. 
This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from www.braylawoffices.com

MileMark Media - Practice Growth Solutions

© 2014 - 2017 Larry E. Bray, P.A. All rights reserved.
This law firm website is managed by MileMark Media.

Contact
The Firm