Although Florida law presumes the enforceability of non-compete agreements in certain circumstances, it is not impossible to get out of a non-compete if there are solid legal grounds to justify it.
In this article, you will find feasible manners to get out of a non-compete agreement in Florida.
How Do I Get Out of a Non-Compete in Florida? – An Honest Approach
Breach of Contract Incurred by Employer
The validity of a contract depends on whether each party involved in the agreement will fulfill the promises made in the document.
In Florida, some employers might include a non-compete clause within an employment agreement with language about compensation, insurance, or other employment conditions. In such cases, an expert attorney must review the document in detail.
If the attorney’s review concludes that the employer has breached the agreement by failing to pay an employee all compensation due or any other contractual obligation, the employee may be relieved of the obligations established by the contract – including the non-compete clause.
No Legitimate Interest to Protect
Under Florida Statutes §542.335 (1)(b), “any restrictive covenant not supported by a legitimate business interest is unlawful and is void and unenforceable.” If an employer attempts to overreach the extent of a non-compete agreement, it may be void.
In many cases, employers may include a non-compete clause as a standard item of an employment agreement, which is a mistake.
For example, low-level employees who have no access to confidential business information should not be obligated to sign non-competes. If an employer attempts to enforce a non-compete clause under these circumstances, it will not have sufficient legal grounds.
Florida Statutes §542.335 (1)(b) defines that the term legitimate business interest includes, but is not limited to:
- Trade secrets (as defined by law)
- Valuable confidential business or professional information that otherwise does not qualify as trade secrets
- Substantial relationships with specific prospective or existing customers, patients, or clients
- Customer, patient, or client goodwill associated with an ongoing business or professional practice, a specific geographic location, or a specific marketing or trade area
- Extraordinary or specialized training
Unreasonable Restraint Period
Florida courts have been reluctant to enforce non-compete agreements that limit an employee’s actions for too long. Generally, a reasonable period for a non-compete agreement is six months while non-competes with an extent over two years are presumed invalid.
As long as the document meets all statutory requirements, a court will likely assume that non-competes with an extent of up to two years are reasonable.
If the Protected “Trade Secret” is Not Secret
When enforcing a non-compete in the court, the employer must demonstrate that the protected information was not publicly available. If a piece of “confidential” information protected under a non-compete agreement is readily available to the general public, the agreement may not be valid.
For example, it might happen in a company that utilizes sales leads obtained from public sources (e.g., chamber of commerce directories) but requires employees to sign non-competes to “protect” the information.