What You Need to Know In the past, non-compete agreements were reserved for high-level executives and professionals who had access to trade secrets and specialized, often expensive, training. Increasingly, however, businesses are asking employees at all levels to sign contracts that restrict their future employment. Hairstylists, tattoo artists, mid-level sales reps and computer technicians now regularly agree to give up future opportunities as a condition of current employment and many are surprised when they realize they cannot accept a job after they leave their current position. On the other side, businesses should understand the nature and extent of restrictions they are permitted to impose, because an overly broad non-compete agreement is unenforceable. An Enforceable Non-Compete Under Florida Laws A non-compete agreement is not intended to thwart competition, but rather to preserve the business’s competitive edge. An enforceable non-compete protects a business’s investment in its employees and keeps crucial information out of the hands of its competitors. Florida Statutes §542.335 requires a valid non-compete contract to be reasonable in time, area and line of business; in writing and signed by the employee, and; justified by a legitimate business interest. The statute even provides some examples of what constitutes a legitimate business interest: Trade secrets as defined by Florida Statute §688.002(4) Other valuable confidential information that does not qualify as a trade secret Potential or existing relationships with customers, patients or clients Goodwill associated with trademark, trade name, service mark or trade dress Goodwill associated with geographic location or marketing or trade […]Read More
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