It’s common for employers to request that you sign a non-competition agreement, or to include a non-compete clause within another document. But whether included during the offer letter stage or in your final severance agreement, it’s possible that some or all of the non-compete terms may violate your workers’ rights and prevent you from seeking meaningful work within your field later on.
Here at Donati Law, PLLC, our Memphis employment lawyers can help you determine whether your non-compete agreement has the potential to hurt you down the road, and whether it could even be upheld in court. We can also help you pursue a wrongful termination or breach of contract claim in the event you need to take direct legal action against your former employer.
When Is a Non-Compete Unenforceable in Court?
A non-competition agreement can take many different forms, and these agreements also vary in scope, length of time, and types of benefits offered alongside the agreement. As companies become more tech-savvy, they are also more likely to ask both employees and vendors to sign non-competes as an attempt to protect proprietary information and customer relationships.
Of course, your employer has to exercise due diligence in researching the laws for your state and make reasonable demands. Although non-competition agreements aren’t necessarily “illegal,” they aren’t always enforceable, and courts will look to multiple factors when considering the enforceability of your contract.
Here are a few of the factors that could make your contract enforceable in Tennessee courts:
- The non-compete must have reasonable geographic and time limits. When determining enforceability, the court’s goal is to ensure that the non-compete isn’t too sweeping.
- Your client relationships are strongly connected to the business. Simply having access to a customer database isn’t always enough to make your non-compete enforceable.
- You must have been given access to trade secrets or confidential information. Courts will need evidence that you had this kind of higher-level access during your employment, and that it could actually damage the business if shared with a given competitor.
- The non-compete must protect a clear, “protectable” business interest. This is the most fundamental threshold question in Tennessee non-competition enforcement cases. In order to have a “protectable” business interest, your employer must demonstrate that the limits it is placing will protect it from unfair competition – not from normal, everyday marketplace competition.
If the non-competition agreement fails to meet these conditions to the court’s satisfaction, it may be considered unreasonable and unenforceable. But even when a non-compete has obvious legal flaws, it’s still important to review your case with a skilled employment lawyer. There are a variety of factors to assess, and each non-compete agreement must be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Dedicated Advocacy for Workers’ Rights
At Donati Law, PLLC, we have more than 35 years of experience serving workers in the Mid-South and Memphis areas. As a family-owned firm with a strong sense of justice, we’ve made it our mission to fight for workers’ rights, ensuring that our clients do not suffer as a result of unfair employment contracts, workplace discrimination and harassment, and wage and hour violations.
When you need strong advocacy to protect your future job prospects, we can stand by your side and argue on your behalf. Whether you need help navigating the claims process or assistance with reviewing a non-competition agreement, our Memphis employment lawyers are ready to become your personal champions in this fight.
Don’t let a former employer prevent you from seeking new employment in your field! Contact us at (901) 209-5500 or inquire online to schedule a consultation with our skilled team.