Non-Compete Agreement Law in Florida for Employees

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Non-Compete Agreement Law in Florida for Employees

Non-compete clauses or contracts are quite common in some industries. You might not see them if you are hired to work an hourly job on a routine task, but if you are working in a creative industry or you are working in product development, you will almost always be asked to sign one. If you work in any of the industries that use non-competes in the state of Florida, you need to know about these important documents and what they can mean for your career.

It is possible to break some non-compete agreements. To do so, you will need the support of a skilled legal team. The team at Lopez Law Group can help you to break any non-compete that is too broad, or that is not legally drafted. You can also count on us to look at the information in any non-compete that you are asked to sign before you actually sign it and agree to the details of the contract. Being sure that your rights are not being violated and that you are going to be able to protect your career and your ability to work in the future is essential when it comes to non-compete agreements of all kinds.

What is a Non-Compete Agreement?

If you have never been asked to sign a non-compete agreement, you might not be sure what this kind of legal document is. You will see these documents in play when you are hired if you are working with proprietary information or you are going to be granted access to trade secrets. You might also be asked to sign one if you are working for a business that wants to prevent you from starting a new company too close to their home territory.

These documents are only legal if they meet two basic requirements in the state of Florida:

·         It Protects a Legitimate Business Interest

You cannot be asked to sign a non-compete when there is no business interest that is threatened if you should leave the company. This means that the contract that you sign for a non-compete must protect a legitimate business concern, like product development knowledge or information about a business type that you could use to launch your own company.

Many companies will attempt to engage employees in contracts of this nature that forbid them from being allowed to work in the same industry in the future or from working on the development of the same product types in the future. This is usually not a valid concern when listed in too broad of terms. You will not be able to be held to general agreements to avoid the entire industry that you are currently working in or work that is related to a given type of product just because you have signed a non-compete.

This is one of the reasons that you will need a skilled legal consultant to look at the non-compete agreements that you are asked to sign. You should never agree to a non-compete that is so broad that it means that you would have to look for an entirely new job if you decide to leave the company that asked you to sign the non-compete agreement.

·         The Agreement is Reasonable in Scope or Nature

This is one of the trickier aspects of looking at a non-compete for those who have never been engaged in one before. It might seem reasonable to you to be asked to work in an entirely different business or in another state once you leave a company that asked you to sign a non-compete. This is not actually the case, and when the non-compete is unreasonable, it can often be broken. You could also elect to refuse to sign a non-compete of this kind due to the review of a lawyer who has stated that the agreement is too broad to be legally binding. These kinds of contracts must be limited in nature for them to hold up in a court of law.

The state of Florida follows the same guidelines as federal law when it comes to non-compete agreements. However, some companies will use very generic language or terms in their non-competes, leading to these kinds of issues that could have been avoided with proper contract-drafting processes in place. Always be on alert for signs that the non-compete that is presented to you as part of your hiring documents is too broad in scope.

Non-Compete Agreement Law in Florida for Employees

What Are Some Things That Are Protected by a Non-Compete?

Most people think of trade secrets when they think about a non-compete agreement, but there are many other kinds of things that can be covered by these documents. Trade secrets are the most common items that are protected by non-compete agreements, and the agreement might cover things like patterns for making an item, knowledge about how something unique is created, and special processes to manufacture items that the business creates.

You might also see the following things covered by a non-compete agreement:

  •         Business information that is unique and special to the industry but is not a trade secret.
  •         Relationships with specific customers and accounts. You will often be asked to sign that you will not steal or take away business from your employer if you should leave the company at any time.
  •         Goodwill of ongoing professional relationships or practices such as complimentary services. These will be discontinued when you leave the company, and you should not seek to engage with these offers once you have terminated employment.
  •         Work of the same type or opening a business of the same type in a specific geographic location.
  •         Goods or services are given to the current place of employment by vendor partners or other kinds of work relationship partners. You should not accept the offers from these parties once you have left your current job or seek to initiate contact for these services once you are no longer an employee.
  •         Specialized training that was invested in you as an employee should not be used for the betterment of competitors or to start your own business within a set timeframe or within a set geographic area.

While these are the most common things that might be covered in a non-compete agreement, these documents can be highly specific to certain industries and their unique business practices. You should consider any specialized requests within a non-compete carefully. If you are not sure if these requests are legal in nature, you might want to have a lawyer take a look at the document in question and see if the detailed items can be upheld in a court of law.

It is always a good idea to have a second set of eyes on any non-compete agreement that is not basic in nature. This can prevent issues down the road, and it can save you a lot of money and time when it comes to breaking the non-compete that you were forced to sign. It is always a good idea to consider a non-compete agreement carefully before you sign it, as this is the kind of contractual agreement that can cause a lot of heartache down the road.

This is particularly true if you have never seen one of these agreements before and are not sure if this document applies to you in your current job role or industry. While it is not common for businesses to ask for non-competes when they are not needed, it can be common for the document to contain errors and limitations that are not correct.

Non-Compete Agreement Law in Florida for Employees

Can I Negotiate an Early Exit From a Non-Compete?

In some instances, you can actually break a non-compete agreement and secure the right to open your own competing business to the one that you have left or to seek employment at a competitor’s business. You will often need the support of a skilled lawyer to handle these kinds of cases. The team at Lopez Law Group can help you to break your non-compete and get on with your work in the industry that you have experience in.

The reasons that non-competes can be broken can vary. In some cases, the scope of the contract is too broad, or in others, the limitations are so specific that they would cause you to be unable to get a job ever again. You also cannot be asked to seek work an unreasonable distance from your original employer’s operational area.

 Non-competes commonly limit the duration of time that you are required to abstain from working at a competitor’s business, and they can limit the geographical area where you can start your own business. Most of these contracts will last for a year or maybe two. Requirements outside of the scope of normal non-compete agreements should be considered red flags and should cause you to have a moment of pause before you agree to them.

At Lopez Law Group, we are happy to look at any non-compete that you are asked to sign and verify that the requirements are reasonable and valid. There is no reason to assume that any non-compete that you are offered is a correct legal document, and we can take the guesswork out of your job searching process by verifying the details of the document. You might also be able to negotiate a more reasonable non-compete with our help if you are interested in securing the job in question without the limitations that have been set in the non-compete as it currently stands.

How Enforceable are Non-Competes in the State of Florida?

This is a really good question, and the answer to the question is that these agreements can vary in their enforceable nature. The language in the contract can have a lot to do with the contract being enforced by a court of law, and the scope of the agreement can also impact a judge’s decision to favor the employer and uphold the contract.

When non-compete agreements are fair and reasonable, they are often upheld by a court of law in the state of Florida. You should think long and hard about the possible impact that this kind of agreement could have on your ability to work in the future if you are concerned about being unable to break the contract if you leave the business that has offered you a job. There are many people that assume that all non-compete contracts can be broken if they are brought before a judge. This is not the case, and it can impact your employment future to count on being able to break a non-compete once you have signed it.

Cases like this can also be very expensive to bring before a judge because of the amount of research and argument that is often needed to present the case and decide for one side versus the other. The complex nature of the relationships that exist between employees and businesses that create new products or develop technology can be a big part of why it takes a lot of time to get these cases seen by a judge.

Non-Compete Agreement Law in Florida for Employees

You will want to consider how much time and money you want to commit to the effort of breaking a non-compete before you decide to sign one as well. There are many instances where you cannot avoid signing these documents in your given industry, but being sure that you understand the consequences of doing so is key.

At Lopez Law Group, we can look at the contract that you have been asked to sign and explain what the limitations of this document will be for your future. You might want to avoid a job that limits your potential opportunities too much if you should leave the employment of the company. You might also want to be sure that you are not a full-time employee or that you do not choose to consult with a company that makes you sign a non-compete. There are many things that you need to know about the effect of these contracts on your employment future, and the team at Lopez Law can help you to figure out what this kind of document can mean for your personal situation.

Are Verbal Agreements Valid as Non-Compete Agreements in the State of Florida?

No verbal non-compete agreement will be upheld in a court of law by a judge in the state of Florida. You will need to have signed a document that indicates what you are agreeing to do for your employer, or there is no non-compete agreement in place. Your current employer can threaten you all they want if you decide to leave with trade secrets or product information that they consider to be proprietary, but if there is no signed non-compete, you are not held to any kind of agreement with them.

Verbal agreements almost never have any bearing on court cases, and you should not consider this kind of statement on the part of your employer legally binding or valid. However, you should also be careful about choosing to work for a business that would handle something so important in this way. This is not normal business practice, and you might want to look at the other places where a company is cutting corners if they are willing to use a verbal non-compete that is not signed when hiring new staff.

You should consider all of your hiring documents legally binding documents that should be committed to writing and signed by all the right parties. Any other kind of verbal process can be open to interpretation or change down the road, leading to legal disputes and various other kinds of employment issues that you will want to avoid.

Non-Compete Agreement Law in Florida for Employees

What Can a Lawyer Do for Me?

If you have been asked to sign a non-compete, but you think that it is not legally binding, the team at Lopez Law Group can take a look at the document and see if there is anything that can be done about the situation. If the contract can be broken, the team will work hard to represent your case and get you the desired outcome of breaking the non-compete.

We are also happy to serve as consultants and look at any document that you have been asked to sign that might not be correct or valid via the law in the state of Florida. We take these kinds of cases very seriously and have years of experience working on non-compete agreement disputes for employees in Florida. You will be able to count on us to carefully research the case, look into the legalities of the requests inside the document, and represent you in court if your case goes before a judge.

Contact us today and set up a consultation if you have questions about a non-compete that you have not signed yet or if you want to break the non-compete that you signed when you were hired. Our skilled team of legal experts will be happy to represent your case and work hard to secure the favorable outcome that you have been looking for.

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