Is a two-year non-compete period enforceable regardless of the reason for separation?

I am currently negotiating an employment offer for a senior sales position in the communications technology space. The company has presented me with a non-compete agreement that prevents me from competing "directly or indirectly" against them in accounts to which I am assigned for a period of two years from separation regardless of the reason. I have responded that "involuntary separation" should carry zero non-compete restriction because it is the company's decision and that voluntary separation should be two months or less.
Even though I am trying to negotiate better language, I may have no choice but to sign the agreement (due to the current job climate). In today's environment would the courts consider this an enforceable agreement?

1 answer  |  asked Sep 26, 2010 4:34 PM [EST]  |  applies to New Jersey

Answers (1)

Natalia Shishkin
Non-competition agreements are enforceable as long as they are reasonable. An employer seeking to enforce a non-compete has to show that the agreement serves the purpose of protecting its legitimate business interests, and not just insulates the company from competition. Thus, the answer to your question depends on many factors, such as the scope of the restrictions, for example. If the non-compete only prohibits you from competing on the accounts you have worked on, it is more likely to be enforceable.

The reason for the separation also becomes a relevant factor in an action to enforce an non-compete. However, I rarely see agreements that provide for different restrictions depending on the way the employment ends. Good luck!

I am licensed to practice law in NJ and NY and specialize in employment law. My response here is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter in question. To get specific legal advice please contact an attorney within your jurisdiction.

posted by Natalia Shishkin  |  Sep 27, 2010 07:29 AM [EST]

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