Employers are increasingly requiring their employees to sign non-compete agreements as a condition of employment. To be enforceable, a non-compete clause must protect a legitimate business interest of the employer, such as trade secrets, customer goodwill, or confidential information. A non-compete cannot simply be used to keep employees from leaving, or to stifle competition.
In Pennsylvania, a non-compete must be reasonable as to geographic area and temporal scope. It also must be supported by consideration, meaning the employer must give you something of value in exchange for signing it. The job itself may constitute consideration if the non-compete is signed in connection with accepting the position. Otherwise, something else of value, such as a promotion, pay raise, or cash incentive, must be offered along with the non-compete agreement.
When non-competes are written fairly, they strike a balance between the employer’s right to protect its interests with the employee's right to work. Unfortunately, too many non-compete agreements heavily favor the employer. Many employers are even requiring non-competes from low-wage workers with no access to confidential information.
If you are looking for a new job and are being asked to sign a non-compete agreement, you'll need to take some time to evaluate the pros and cons of signing it. Elzer Law Firm, LLC can review your proposed non-compete and advise you on whether to sign it. We can also discuss whether to try to negotiate a more favorable non-compete agreement before you sign anything.
Not all non-competes are enforceable. If you already signed an agreement and are looking to make a move that may be in violation of that agreement, please contact us for a consultation. If you have been sued by an employer for allegedly violating a non-compete, you must act quickly to defend yourself. Attorney Christine T. Elzer has extensive experience litigating non-compete cases, as well as negotiating with employers to narrow or eliminate non-compete obligations.