Non-Compete Agreements Attorney
Non-compete agreements have long been an important part of many employment contracts. Many employers seek such agreements from current or prospective employees to prevent employees from quitting their jobs and taking the employers’ businesses’ intellectual property, trade secrets, or the fruits of the employer’s marketing investments to competitors, thus gaining an unfair competition advantage.
However, such clauses are also controversial because they restrict employees’ rights and opportunities to find new jobs. Some states, such as California, have outlawed such agreements. Other states, impose fines and criminal penalties upon employers who enforce (or who even present employees with) non-compliant non-compete agreements. While Georgia’s courts once routinely invalidated non-compete agreements worded too broadly, or that limited employee work opportunities too unreasonably, Georgia amended the law to permit courts to modify unreasonable agreements by omitting words or phrases that made the non-compete unreasonably broad, or too long-lasting, or vague. Thus, it is important to know the particular requirements existing within the state where the non-compete agreement will be applied.
Most recently, however, the Federal Trade Commission has proposed a rule that would outlaw all non-compete agreements altogether. Read on to learn more about non-compete agreement law in Georgia.
The Basics of Non-Compete Agreements
A non-compete agreement usually provides that for a certain period, a current or former employee may not leave a company to work in the same capacity performing the same duties for a competing company. Such restrictions are often found in employment contracts when employees first are hired. Additionally, it can occur when they renew an existing employment contract, or when an employee receives a promotion or raise.
Generally under most states’ laws, such agreements are valid only when they cover a definite and limited time period (commonly one to three years) that a court finds “reasonable” to protect a legitimate employer’s business interests. Such agreements may only limit an employee’s work opportunities if the employee will be performing defined functions. These functions are similar to what they performed for the company that imposed the non-compete clause. Finally, they must apply to competitors in the same defined geographic area where the contracting employer does business.
DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick, & Benjamin have a great deal of experience with these cases. We can help you with non-compete agreement cases and cases in other areas of employment law. Contact us today so we can guide you through your non-compete agreement case and help you achieve a positive result.
Employment Lawyers Handle Non-Compete Agreements
Some companies try to draft their own non-compete agreements without the assistance of an attorney well-versed in non-compete law. Templates can be found on the Internet. However, they frequently are too generic to be enforceable or effective for a specific company. To be competent at drafting, enforcing, or advising an employer or employee about a non-compete agreement a lawyer must both know the particular state or common law that applies to such an agreement, and be sufficiently familiar with the employer’s business to understand the extent to which a court is likely to enforce such an agreement.
On January 5, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission published a Notice of Proposed Rule that would essentially ban all non-compete agreements between employers and employees. This includes agreements already signed and in effect, and agreements that might be entered into. The public will have until March 5, 2023 to comment on the proposal. If the FTC finally adopts the Proposed Rule is enacted, it will supersede all state laws governing non-compete agreements, and have a profound impact on all US businesses, particularly those businesses that utilize non-compete agreements to protect their trade secrets and confidential business information.
It still is possible to construct an agreement that will protect employers’ legitimate business interests, such as trade secrets and confidential proprietary information, without unduly restricting employees’ job prospects, which the FTC is not currently attempting to outlaw. DeLong, Caldwell, Bridgers, Fitzpatrick, & Benjamin attorneys have a great deal of experience with such agreements and can help you draft clauses that adequately will protect your business interests.
Contact us today to discuss your options regarding such agreements.