What Makes a Non-Compete Agreement Valid and Enforceable in Florida?
As competition between businesses has been more fierce than ever before, an ever-increasing number of business owners are using non-compete agreements to protect their companies from unfair competition.
If you are a business owner who needs to protect their company interests from former employees, you could benefit from drafting a non-compete agreement (NCA) and making the employees who have access to sensitive and confidential information sign it.
While Florida law recognizes valid NCAs, how do you make a valid and enforceable non-compete agreement?
What is an Enforceable Non-Compete Agreement in Florida?
The Florida Statutes Section 542.335 requires NCAs to meet certain requirements to be enforceable. A non-compete agreement in Florida must meet the following requirements to be deemed valid and enforceable:
- The agreement must be in writing.
- The document must be signed by the employee.
- The non-compete agreement must be necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate business interest (e.g., trade secrets, confidential information, classified data, etc.).
- Only the employees who have access to trade secrets, confidential information, or other property or interests of the employer can be required to sign a non-compete agreement. You cannot require all employees to sign an NCA unless doing so is absolutely necessary to protect the legitimate business interest.
- The time limitations contained in the non-compete agreement must be reasonable. In other words, your employees cannot be subject to the restrictions for an indefinite period of time. Typically, six months is considered a “reasonable” amount of time when drafting NCAs.
- The geographical limitations contained in the NCA must be reasonable, too. For example, if you do business only in Florida, it would most likely be unreasonable to restrict your employees from working for a competitor in other states or countries.
Consistent Enforcement of Non-Compete Agreements in Florida
In addition to carefully drafting a non-compete agreement, a business owner should also ensure consistent enforcement of the agreement. It means exactly what it sounds like: You must be consistent with enforcing NCAs.
If one employee is punished for violating the terms of an NCA, but the other employee does not face any consequences for the same conduct, the punished employee could potentially sue their employers for discrimination or retaliation. In other words, a business owner should make sure that a non-compete agreement is enforced fairly for all the employees who signed NCAs.
Speak with a Sarasota Business Litigation Lawyer
It is advised to contact an experienced business litigation lawyer in any of the following situations:
- You need help with drafting a valid and enforceable non-compete agreement;
- Your employee violated a non-compete agreement, and you need a lawyer to seek an injunction;
- You need a legal professional to review your existing non-compete agreement to make sure that it is enforceable in the State of Florida;
- You want to revise and improve your existing non-compete agreements; or
- You need to enforce a non-compete agreement.
Speak with our Sarasota business litigation lawyer at Suncoast Civil Law to protect your business interests and ensure that your non-compete agreement meets all legal requirements to be deemed enforceable and valid in Florida. Call at 941-366-1800.