Some states have taken steps to reduce the number of employees required to sign non-compete agreements. What is the situation in Florida?
These documents are usually upheld if they meet several conditions. The relevant Florida statute says that these documents must be:
Be made in writing and signed by the employee who is being bound by its terms
A non-compete agreement is a contract, so if they did not sign the piece of paper, there is no viable agreement in place that they can be held accountable for violating.
Be reasonable in time, area, and line of business
“I, John Smith, promise never to work for anyone, anywhere, in any industry” is not going to stand up in court.
“I, John Smith, promise that for the next 12 months after leaving, I won’t work for another Pinellas County firm that implements technological security systems in schools,” might be.
Protect a legitimate business interest
What do you have to protect here? If Nora from the staff canteen takes your meatball recipe and uses it when working in another firm’s canteen, is it really going to matter? Your employees aren’t suddenly going to up and leave just for the café meatball recipe and it wouldn’t really affect you even if they did.
If, however, your business is food production, and your meatballs are wildly different from others, you might have reason to ask Nora not to take the recipe to a rival food producer.
Other examples of legitimate business interests could include stopping Jessica from B2B sales from taking your client list to a new employer. Or preventing Paul, your middle manager, from setting up a rival store that appears so similar to outsiders that people think it is yours.
There are plenty of other examples that a court may consider when questioning the validity of a non-compete agreement, so it’s crucial to get legal help if you are unsure where you stand.