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Non-compete agreement: close court scrutiny, for sure

The employer/worker relationship is both reciprocal and symbiotic: Each party has distinct and singular needs of its own, yet both need each other.

And that give and take -- that inherent tension, if you will -- can sometimes make for an uneasy balance at the workplace.

Such is especially the case sometimes regarding select workers. An individual might be deemed a key employee in the sense that he or she is privy to important proprietary information that an employer wants to keep a lid on. Alternatively, that worker might command special skills that could greatly benefit a business rival in the event that he or she terminates employment and takes that acumen over to a competitor.

To guard against potential downsides in such cases, employers often ask workers -- usually prior to employment and as a condition for receiving a job offer -- to execute a non-competition agreement. That contract sets forth terms and conditions that will apply following a worker's job termination and securing of new employment.

It will probably surprise few readers of this business and commercial law blog that a non-compete agreement must be reasonable in broad-based ways in order to be held enforceable by a court.  If an unreasonable agreement were deemed enforceable, it might well result in a flat foreclosure of future opportunity for a departing worker.

Judicial scrutiny of a non-compete is customarily close and exacting, and proceeds with due appreciation that both the involved business and worker have legitimate interests to protect.

A number of factors influence a court's decision regarding the fairness and enforceability of a non-competition agreement. A proven business attorney with a deep well of experience negotiating and drafting such contracts can help ensure that a client is well represented when seeking to either defend or contest a non-compete.

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