More employers have begun requiring their employees to sign a non-compete agreement as a condition of their hiring. Employers use non-compete agreements to protect themselves from employees who leave sharing their sensitive trade secrets or taking their customers. When non-compete agreements are well-written, they protect the employer’s business interests while protecting the employee’s right to work.
Contact a Pittsburgh Non-Compete Agreement Attorney
Non-compete agreements are beneficial for employers, but they can interfere with an employee’s essential ability to work and make a living. If you have signed a non-compete agreement that has the potential to restrict your ability to work after leaving your position, you need an experienced attorney on your side. At Jones Gregg Creehan Gerace, we represent employees and employers in non-compete matters and are prepared to provide you with effective legal representation.
What Are Non-Compete Agreements?
Non-compete agreements are contracts between an employee and an employer that an employee signs. They state that the employee will not work for a company’s competitor after leaving the company for a certain amount of time. Non-compete agreements are intended to prevent employees from using the company’s clientele, trade secrets, or sensitive processes that will benefit a competing business for financial gain.
The purpose of a non-compete agreement is to protect an employer from a former employee sharing their secrets, taking their customers, and harming their profitability. Three specific areas should be addressed in non-compete agreements.
First, the non-compete agreement should state the geographic boundaries within which a former employee cannot compete with their former employer. Second, the agreement should detail the job roles and fields within which the employee cannot use confidential information they learned while working for the employer. Finally, the non-compete agreement should set a time limit for when the employee’s agreement has expired. The time period is limited since employees may forget certain aspects of former occupational trade. Businesses also have a constantly changing list of clients and company policies over the years.
Unenforceable Non-Compete Agreements
Well-written non-compete agreements are legal in Pennsylvania. Courts will strike them down if they are overly strict. Under Pennsylvania law, non-compete agreements need to be reasonable regarding the geographic area and time frame it imposes. The non-compete agreement also needs to be supported by consideration. In other words, the employer must give the employee something of value in exchange for the employee agreeing to the non-compete agreement.
When the non-compete agreement is signed in connection with a new position, the job itself may constitute consideration. However, suppose the employer demands that a current employee sign the agreement without giving them something else of value, such as a promotion or cash incentive. In that case, the non-compete agreement may not be a valid contract.
Pennsylvania courts will strike down non-compete agreements when they are unconscionable due to their unfairness. Many non-compete agreements favor the employer too heavily. For example, if an employer requires a non-compete agreement for a low-wage worker who doesn’t have confidential information about the business, a court may strike the non-compete agreement down.
Negotiation and Litigation of Non-Compete Contracts
Whether you are seeking a new job and have been asked to sign a non-compete agreement, or you are a current employee who’s been asked to sign a non-compete agreement, speaking to an attorney is beneficial. Before you sign the agreement, we recommend meeting with one of our skilled employment attorneys. We will carefully review the non-compete contract and evaluate the pros and cons of signing it. We can advise you whether signing the agreement would be in your best interest. We can also discuss whether you would like to negotiate a more reasonable and fair agreement before you sign any contract.
What If I’ve Already Signed a Non-Compete Agreement?
If you’ve already signed a non-compete agreement, you may be concerned about the future of your career. Remember, not all non-compete agreements are enforceable. If you’ve already signed a non-compete agreement and you’re looking to take action that could violate the agreement, we recommend speaking to an attorney.
One of our attorneys can review your non-compete agreement and help you decide whether the agreement is legally enforceable or not. We can also help you understand the penalties of reaching an agreement and all of your legal options going forward. If your former employer has already sued you for allegedly breaching the agreement, you will need to act quickly to defend yourself.
The attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan Gerace have extensive experience litigating non-compete cases in Pittsburgh and throughout Pennsylvania. We also have experience negotiating with employers to narrow or eliminate your non-compete obligations. If the non-compete agreement is unconscionable, we can take the issue to court.
Non-Compete Negotiation and Drafting for Businesses
Using non-compete agreements can be tremendously helpful for business owners, especially those with confidential information. If you are a Pittsburgh business owner and you would like to draft a non-compete agreement, our skilled attorneys can help you do so. Pennsylvania courts will strike down agreements that are not fair for the employee. We can help your business draft and negotiate non-compete agreements that comply with Pennsylvania law, saving you time, stress, and money down the road.
Our Pittsburgh Non-Compete Attorneys Can Help
At Jones Gregg Creehan Gerace, we have successfully represented employers and employees in a wide range of non-compete matters. Our employment attorneys have an in-depth understanding of Pennsylvania non-compete laws. We will carefully review your case and provide you with skilled and effective legal counsel. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about our legal services.