non-compete clause

I am a Physician Assistant working in the ER. I recently started work at a new hospital and signed a non-compete clause stating that I would not during my work there or for a period of 1 year after termination work at any other ER facility within a 10 mile radius. After only working there for 3 months, The hospital that I am working at hired another PA and gave me the feeling that they were going to terminate me. I therefore interviewed elsewhere and was accepted for a job 5 miles away. Can I accept this job since I would not be bringing patients with me (as a PA), and since ER work does not have established patients?

1 answer  |  asked Mar 4, 2008 1:33 PM [EST]  |  applies to Wisconsin

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Answers (1)

Shannon McDonald
Non Compete Information

Unfortunately, it is impossible to definitively answer your question without additional information. Having said that, I can say that non compete agreements, or covenants not to compete, are disfavored by the courts. However, a carefully drafted non compete agreement will be upheld and enforced against a departing employee if all the elements are met. Generally, to be valid, a non compete agreement must be reasonable as to duration of time, reasonable as to geography (or customer/client restriction), it must be necessary for the protection of the employer's business (i.e. the employer must have a "protectable interest"), it cannot be unduly harsh to the employee, and it cannot be against public policy. The great thing about the State of Wisconsin is that if even one of those elements are not satisfied by the employer, the entire covenant not to compete is invalidated. With regard to the geographic restriction only, in your case 10 miles, courts have repeatedly held that relatively small geographic restrictions are reasonable. This obviously raises the question of 10 miles from what? If it's a nation-wide hospital, does the agreement prohibit you from obtaining employment within 10 miles from each and every location or just the location at which you currently are located? Another bit of information that would be helpful is what type of information the hospital is trying to protect with this agreement; i.e. does it, in fact, have a protectable interest? Again, it is impossible to provide you with a definitive answer without reviewing your non compete in great detail and discussing the facts of your employment and job duties with you.

posted by Shannon McDonald  |  Mar 4, 2008 2:02 PM [EST]

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