My employer made me sign a non-compete agreement and now they are trying to stop me from getting a new job; can they do this?
What is an Ohio non-compete agreement?
Non-competition agreements, often referred to as non-competes, are agreements preventing employees from accepting a job with an employer’s competitor for a certain period of time after leaving their job with their current employer. Non-competes are used in a variety of industries, but they are most common in sales and service professions. Regardless of the industry in which you work, if you signed a non-compete, it may be enforceable in Ohio. An employer is even permitted to make your agreement to a non-compete a requirement of employment or continued employment, with a few exceptions, such as employees under union contracts or individual employment agreements.
Are non-compete agreements enforceable in Ohio?
It depends on the circumstances. Reasonable non-compete agreements can be enforceable in Ohio. The courts apply the following factors when determining if a non-compete agreement is enforceable:
- Are the restrictions contained in the non-compete agreement necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate interests?
- Do the restrictions contained in the non-compete agreement place an undue hardship on the employee?
- Do the restrictions contained in the non-compete agreement injure the public?
- Are the restrictions in the non-compete agreement overly broad?
Applying these factors, the court can rule that a non-compete agreement is invalid. The court may also modify a non-compete agreement to impose different terms it considers fair and just for both parties.
What can happen if I violate my non-compete agreement?
A valid non-compete agreement is a binding contract between you and your employer. If you violate your non-compete agreement, your employer can sue you just as they would sue anyone who breached a contract. The employer can request that the court prohibit you from accepting a specific job, accepting a job within a specific area, or from contacting clients or customers of the employer, regardless of whether those clients or customers existed at the time you were originally hired or whether they came to the company through your efforts.
In many cases, an employer and employee can negotiate an acceptable settlement to both parties. However, you should understand that when you sign a non-compete agreement, your employer may have the right to stop you from taking a job that violates the terms of the non-compete agreement.
If I am leaving my current employer, what should I do about my non-compete agreement?
If you are considering leaving your current employer, you may want to consult with an experienced employment lawyer to review the terms of your non-compete agreement. An employment lawyer can advise you as to whether the non-compete agreement is enforceable and, if so, what restrictions it places on your ability to take a new job. It is much better to know your rights before you begin your job search. You do not want to have to tell your new employer that your previous employer is filing a lawsuit to terminate your employment with the new employer. You also do not want your new employer to discover you are under a non-compete agreement by receiving a notice from your previous employer’s attorney.
Do you have more questions about non-compete agreements?
If you have signed a non-compete agreement with your employer or your employer is requiring you to sign a non-compete agreement, call Robert A. Klingler Co., L.P.A. to schedule a consultation with an experienced Cincinnati employment lawyer. We can review your non-compete agreement and advise you of your legal rights when it comes to going to work for another employer.