Is a Non-Compete Enforceable in Florida?
In most states, non-compete agreements are unenforceable. In Florida, however, they are perfectly legal. According to Florida Statute 542.335, non-competes—which are contracts that “restrict or prohibit competition during or after the term of restrictive covenants”—may be enforceable so long as the contracts are reasonable in area, time, and the line of business.
If you signed a non-compete with your employer and want to know what that means for your future, seek the advice of a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale contract attorney. So long as you do not do anything overtly competitive, you likely have nothing to worry about. However, if you do something like assume a role with a competitor that is similar to or the same as your last position within weeks of ending your previous work relationship, you may have an issue. To better understand what a non-compete means for you, reach out to the business litigation team at the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A., today.
Florida’s Non-Compete Clause Can Control Competition
Florida law is a bit different than other states in that it allows employers to protect themselves with non-compete clauses. Any employer in any industry can require employees to sign non-compete contracts. Unfortunately, while this measure protects employers, it can hurt the livelihood of employees, as the impact on an employee’s livelihood has no effect on the enforceability of a non-compete clause. In other words, if a person signs a non-compete and either quits his or her position or gets fired, he or she cannot pursue similar employment elsewhere. For this reason, you should never sign a non-compete agreement without fully understanding what you are agreeing to. Additionally, if an employer values your skill and knowledge enough to safeguard it, negotiate terms in your employment contract that protects you from termination and/or that provides for non-compete contingencies.
Enforcing Non-Compete Agreements in Florida
Though non-competes are enforceable, enforceability is not automatic. If an employer wants to enact the terms of the agreement, he or she must be able to justify the non-compete provision by proving the existence of one or more legitimate business interests. Florida law defines legitimate business interests as some of the following:
- Trade secrets;
- Client or customer goodwill;
- Noteworthy relationships with customers or clients;
- Valuable or confidential information (not including trade secrets); and
- Specialized training.
Moreover, the agreement must be in writing and signed by both the employer and employee. If an employer can prove the existence of one or more legitimate business interests but cannot provide a signed document, the employee is free to do as she wills.
If You Signed a Non-Compete, Contact a Fort Lauderdale Business Litigation Lawyer
Even if you do not believe that your employer has a legitimate reason for wanting to enforce a non-compete, you should consult with a Fort Lauderdale business litigation attorney before assuming employment with a competitor. Though your livelihood may be at stake, you stand to lose more if you violate the terms of a non-compete agreement. To learn more about your rights, contact the office of Edward J. Jennings, P.A. today.