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Should I sign a noncompete agreement?

Many employers ask their employees to sign noncompete agreements at the onset of their employment. These agreements can severely limit your job choices if you choose to leave your employer.

To protect your rights, it is important to seek advice from an employment law attorney before you sign. Once you sign an agreement, you may be unable to extricate yourself from it later.

What is a noncompete agreement?

A noncompete agreement is an agreement in which you agree not to take a job or start a business that completes with your employer. The agreement may be limited in scope to a geographic region, a period of time or a specific type of job - or it may be quite broad.

In the past companies typically asked sales and management employees to sign these agreements to prevent those employees from going to work for a competitor or starting a competing business. Today, employers ask many more employees to sign these agreements, including technical employees and in some cases fast-food workers.

Depending on the scope of a noncompete agreement, signing it can severely limit your job choices if you leave your employer. You may be prevented from working in your chosen profession or in the area where you choose to live. Increasingly, employers are choosing to enforce these agreements even when they are unreasonable.

Can I get out of a noncompete agreement?

If you signed a noncompete agreement that you think is unreasonable, an experienced employment lawyer can help you navigate your legal options. Florida courts have voided agreements found to be "overreaching." However, seeking legal advice before signing an agreement will be less costly than trying to extricate yourself from an unreasonable agreement.

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