What is a non-compete agreement?

Non-compete agreements are documents signed by an employee, whether at the beginning or sometime during the employment with a company, promising not to work in the same competing industry, within a certain location, or work for specific employers for a defined period of time after the current employment ends. For example, if you work State Farm Insurance for many years, and are offered a job at Allstate, your current employee documentation – should it have a non-compete agreement- would hinder you from simply giving your two week’s notice and beginning your new job with Allstate.

Non-compete agreements allow employers to protect themselves from you switching your “loyalties” from one company to another. In this case, State Farm may include in their non-compete agreement that you wait one year before beginning a job with a competitive company; thus, protecting State Farm from losing their client base to your new opportunity with a competitive insurance agency.

Employment lawyers can review a non-compete prior to being signed, assist you in court should you be sued for violating a non-compete, or try and guide you through getting out of a non-compete with a previous employer. While Tennessee courts “disfavor” non-competes, the courts still enforce them.

How do courts determine whether a non-compete is enforceable?

Courts consider many variables; however, common inquiries include: whether the employer’s non-compete agreement extends beyond just not wanting to be competed with, whether the employee benefited from signing the non-compete, and if the requirements of the non-compete appear reasonable.

Hiring an experienced employment lawyer can ensure that your companies agreement is reasonable and within your rights. While the non-compete agreement protects the company, it is your employment lawyer or attorney’s job to best protect you.