Turnover is a fact of life for every business, especially in an “at-will” state like Florida, which permits employees and employers alike to easily terminate their relationship. While employees come and go with ease, the skills and knowledge they gain should not: Noncompete Agreements serve as a vital means of protecting your business interests without infringing an employee’s right to work where they please.
As one of the few states to recognize Noncompete Agreements for a reasonable period of time, it is vital for Florida businesses to enlist in-state attorneys. Jurado & Associates is a South Florida law firm with the experience and expertise to draft these critical legal instruments. We know how to make your Noncompete Agreement comply with Florida’s requirements as well as your own best interests.
How Noncompete Agreements Work
Until 1996, Noncompete Agreements could not be executed in Florida because they were considered an invalid and unfair restriction on the commercial rights of employees. With the implementation of Section 542.335 of the Florida Statutes, Noncompete Agreements can now be enforced—provided they meet a standard of “reasonableness” in terms of time, area, and scope of restriction. An agreement found lacking in any of these areas will be deemed unenforceable.
So, what makes a Noncompete Agreement reasonable? Almost three decades of caselaw has established the following standard:
- The Noncompete Agreement must be in writing and signed by the employee whom it will bind.
- It must be necessary to protect a legitimate business interest, such as classified information, trade secrets, important portfolio of clients, and exclusive training. So long as you can prove it is important to your business, a court could enforce it.
- Only employees who can access and use the confidential information should sign the Noncompete Agreement. An employee for whom the Noncompete Agreement is deemed irrelevant—because they do not deal with the trade secrets, client portfolio, etc.—may be immune from enforcement of the agreement.
- The employee cannot be restricted forever or indefinitely: A clear limit must be assigned. Under Florida law, six months is considered a reasonable amount of time, although restrictions that are a few months longer may be enforceable if you can prove that the business interest being protected outweighs the restriction.
- Likewise, geographic restrictions must also be reasonable. For example, you generally cannot restrict an employee from working at a competitor hundreds of miles away.
These are just some of the elements of an effective and enforceable Noncompete Agreement. You must also take into account how violations will be resolved or addressed, the scope of monetary damages, and how the agreement will be enforced among different classes of employees.
How a Jurado & Associates Business Lawyer Can Help
Drafting a valid Noncompete Agreement is far from an exact science: It requires a nuanced but precise grasp of legal language. Any ambiguities or faulty provisions could render it unforceable—and thereby leave your business vulnerable.
Do not leave it to chance: Hire a law firm run by business owners, for business owners. Jurado & Associates Business Lawyers have helped protect numerous clients with effective and comprehensive Noncompete Agreements. We will work closely with you to understand the needs and circumstances of your business and how best to protect your interests. To learn more about our business solutions, or to schedule a consultation, call (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected].