If you are looking to learn more about non-compete and non-solicitation agreements in Florida, then this article is for you. Read on to learn what you need to know directly from an experienced Florida Business Lawyer.
Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation Agreements in Florida – Understanding How They Work
It is vital for business owners in the Sunshine State to know what non-compete and non-solicitation agreements are and how they work. Both types of agreements are essentially restrictive covenants that limit the behavior of a company’s former employees. Generally, these legal instruments are clauses within more comprehensive employments contracts. However, each of them can also function as a contract on its own. If you intend to start a company that will hire employees, then you must make sure you understand how these agreements work as well as how Florida courts interpret and enforce them.
When it comes to restrictive covenants, reasonableness is king. If you force your employees to sign contracts that are excessively restrictive, a court could invalidate them if one of those employees files a claim after leaving your company.
Non-compete agreements essentially prevent a company’s former employees from starting their own company in the same industry as well as from owning an interest in or working for another company in the same industry. The purpose of non-compete agreements is not to give employers an unfair advantage; in fact, it is the opposite. Their purpose is to ensure that former employees do not retaliate against or abuse their former employers. In many cases, a company’s employees receive specialized knowledge about the company’s industry and have access to the company’s confidential information, trade secrets, etc. Non-compete agreements essentially forbid a company’s former employees from using that information within the same industry to compete against their former employer’s business.
Non-solicitation agreements, on the other hand, while they also impose restrictions on the behavior of a company’s former employees, they do so in a different way. Under a non-solicitation agreement, a company’s former employee cannot directly ask their clients to follow him or her to a different company. In other words, these agreements prevent a company’s former employees from stealing the company’s clients. In some cases, non-solicitation agreements may also prevent a company’s former employees from asking other employees of the company to follow them after resignation or termination. Like non-compete agreements, the purpose of non-solicitation agreements is to prevent former employees from abusing employers.
The Principle of Reasonableness Governs Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation Agreements in Florida
As a business owner, it is vital to have a clear understanding of the purposes of these legal tools, as well as the specific ways in which courts interpret and enforce them. In some states, such as California, courts essentially do not enforce these agreements because the state wants to promote competition in the business world as much as possible. In Florida, while these agreements are permissible, the state imposes several restrictions on them.
Non-compete and non-solicitation agreements in Florida are governed by the principle of reasonableness, which means that, as mentioned above, courts will invalidate agreements that they find to be overly restrictive or unfair against employees upon judicial scrutiny. The question here is what constitutes reasonableness? Unfortunately, there is no universal answer here. Florida courts determine how reasonable restrictive covenants are on a case-by-case basis, so there is no way to tell what constitutes reasonableness without looking at the facts of a particular case, and that is precisely where I can help.
Do You Need Help with Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation Agreements in Florida? I Can Provide It
I can help develop restrictive covenants that 1) protect your business and 2) are reasonable and, therefore, legally enforceable. When it comes to non-compete and non-solicitation agreements in Florida, extreme caution is vital, so you must make sure to obtain expert counsel prior to drafting these documents.