Determining the enforceability of non-compete agreements in Florida can be tricky, especially for inexperienced employees and employers. Unfortunately, many employees in Florida are forced to sign unreasonably restrictive non-compete agreements, and they do it without knowing these agreements are invalid. In addition, many employers unknowingly create invalid agreements because they do not understand the laws governing them. Although non-compete agreements are valid in Florida, they need to meet certain requirements.
Read on to learn what you need to know about non-compete agreements in Florida and why you should not create or sign them without first having an experienced business lawyer review them to make sure they are valid.
Understanding the Concept – What Is a Non-Compete Agreement?
Essentially, a non-compete agreement is a contract that prohibits or restricts competition during and/or after the relationship between the parties by using restrictive covenants. Section 542.335 of the Florida Statutes establishes:
- what a non-compete agreement may protect;
- how long the restrictions included in a non-compete agreement can remain valid, based on the business relationship between the parties;
- burdens of proof for when it comes to opposing and seeking enforcement; and
- general instructions regarding how courts must interpret non-compete agreements.
Simply put, this statute says that restrictive covenants are valid as long as they are reasonable and protect legitimate business interests. In other words, the enforceability of non-compete agreements in Florida is determined by how reasonable their restrictions are and how necessary they are in terms of protecting legitimate business interests.
Although some generalities apply for virtually all businesses, there is no universal non-compete agreement. For a non-compete agreement to be valid and enforceable in the State of Florida, its restrictive covenants must be reasonable in regards to:
- the duration of the restrictions established in the agreement;
- the geographical area within which the restrictions apply; and
- the line of business.
Determining the Enforceability of Non-Compete Agreements in Florida
When it comes to the enforceability of non-compete agreements in Florida, determinations are made on a case-by-case basis, as every business is different. Additionally, the laws surrounding the enforceability of non-compete agreements in Florida sometimes change as the world of business evolves.
For example, in a case where a healthcare provider employs all of the specialists in a specific medical specialty, a non-compete agreement between the healthcare provider and the specialists would not be enforceable because there is no legitimate business interest supporting this type of agreement and restrictions of this kind would be considered unreasonable because they restrict patient access to healthcare professionals.
Non-compete agreements that are created properly, using factual evidence, provide a foundation for enforcement from pre-suit negotiations to litigation. However, creating valid and enforceable non-compete agreements is not an easy task.
The laws surrounding the enforceability of non-compete agreements in Florida can be complex, so working with an attorney is vital whether you are an employer looking to make sure your non-compete agreements comply with the law and are enforceable or an employee who is either entering a non-compete agreement or trying to get out of one.
Attorney Romy B. Jurado Esq. can help you make sure that any non-compete agreement you enter into is valid, enforceable, and reasonable so you never have to see the inside of a courtroom because of it.