Non-competes are an essential tool that protects businesses from unfair competition due to an employee who takes work at a competing business, and as such, should be taken seriously when a violation occurs. Many states, including Florida, have created limitations on the scope of non-compete clauses which may pose issues to your business’s ability to enforce its existing agreements. Ensure that your business is compliant with these important restrictions to avoid the risk of severe damage to your business, should a past employee decide to take employment with a competitor.
Scope Is Critical
The “scope”, or broadness of your non-compete agreement, is the main aspect that will determine its enforceability. Non-competes that are deemed “overbroad”, or overly restrictive, will not be enforceable in court. Florida law provides some guidelines on what is considered reasonable in terms of scope for non-competes, and we can understand what is acceptable by taking a look at how courts have ruled in the past.
Primarily, the non-compete must be used to protect your own legitimate business interests. Your business may not prevent an employee from working in a similar position unless it is pertinent to protecting the value of your own. Commonly accepted reasons for enforcing non-competes include the protection of trade secrets or proprietary information such as a specialized process, or specialized training that your business provided to employees which would provide substantial value to a competitor.
One of the most common reasons that non-competes fail to remain enforceable is the duration by which they restrict an employee. Agreements cannot permanently prevent an employee from working in a similar position and must remain reasonable for the interest they protect. Florida law has established that at maximum, a duration of two years may be considered reasonable, while a duration of six months or less is automatically assumed to be reasonable. If your business elects for a duration longer than six months, ensure that it is justified in doing so, else risk your agreement becoming non-enforceable.
The geographical area that your non-compete restricts is also relevant to its enforceability, as businesses cannot restrict employees from employment in areas where they do not have an active business interest. Just as with the duration of your agreement, ensure that the geographical restriction is reasonable and not overboard.
Taking action quickly is essential in a potential non-compete violation to prevent damages to your business. Contact Trembly Law today at (305) 985-4571 for expedient and efficient representation to protect your business’s interests.