Protecting trade secrets has been a key priority of Florida corporations for a considerable period of time. One way that businesses have been able to do this is through non-compete agreements. Often, these contractual instruments were reserved for specialized employees and upper management who had access to restricted trade secrets.
However, non-compete agreements have become much more common in the general realm of employment law. Typically, the agreements restrict employees when they plan to embark on a transition to a rival company.
However, it is important to note that non-compete agreements may not always be fair or specific enough to be legally enforceable.
What does the law in Florida say about non-compete agreements?
The law on non-compete agreements is governed by Florida Statute §542.335. The statute outlines what are considered to be legitimate business interests. Furthermore, it applies the principle that non-compete agreements are only enforceable when they are reasonable in time, area and line of business. Additionally, they must be in written form, acknowledged by the employee and signed.
What happens if agreements are not specific enough?
Upon meeting the requirement set out in Florida Statute §542.335, non-compete agreements may still be challenged if they are too broad in scope. Also, the time period that an agreement will last is generally two years. An agreement that remains in place for longer than this may be considered unreasonable, except in exceptional circumstances.
The geographic location that a non-compete agreement covers will depend on the corporation. For a small company, dealing only in local trade, a statewide restriction may be considered unreasonable.
Reasonable line of business
A reasonable line of business refers to the type of tasks an employee carried out with the original company. For example, if a person carried out something very specific for a company, it may be unfair to restrict them from taking on an unrelated role in a different organization.
Understanding the fundamentals of non-compete agreements could be in your best interests. As an employee in Florida, there are legal options open to you if you feel your rights have been violated.