As a Florida business owner, you have significant company assets to protect. Though they may not be something you can touch or quantify, some of these interests are extremely valuable to ongoing business success. Therefore, it’s understandable that you may consider a non-compete agreement to prevent someone from using them to your detriment. To assist with this important objective, Florida enacted a statute regarding restraints of trade that allows and governs non-compete contracts.
Still, the laws and case precedent regarding non-competes are complicated, so it’s wise to work with a Clearwater employment contracts attorney – whether you’re looking to create one or enforce an existing agreement. Some background information may also be helpful.
Overview of Florida Law on Non-Compete Agreements: You might be surprised to find these contracts included in a section on restraints of trade, but that’s exactly what a non-compete agreement is. For this reason, non-competes are viewed with scrutiny where they may prevent someone from working in their chosen occupation. When you request an employee, officer, or other individual to sign a restrictive covenant, it must:
- Be reasonable in terms of time, geographic area, and business scope;
- Be in writing by the person who is required to comply with the terms of the non-compete; and,
- Support a legitimate business interest of the company that may eventually seek to enforce it.
Company Interests You Can Protect with a Non-Compete: The statute refers to several legitimate business interests that an organization can safeguard through a properly drafted noncompetition agreement. Examples include:
- Trade secrets, intellectual property, and other information that a company holds in confidence;
- Relationships with existing customers, prospects, or clients;
- Company goodwill associated with trademarks, a certain geographic location, or market sector; and,
- Any special training or valuable information employees gain through their employment.
As such, it’s important to construct a non-competition agreement through the proper terminology, but you must also be clear in terms of the confidential information you seek to protect. Without some reasonable limitations, the clause may be too broad – which creates challenges when you seek to enforce it.
Legal Options for Enforcing Non-Compete Agreements: Assuming the provisions comply with Florida law, the core of an action to enforce a noncompetition clause is a contract dispute. Your rights as a business owner may include filing a lawsuit, but a strongly worded cease and desist letter can be an effective strategy for avoiding the courtroom. If you do need to resort to litigation, you could seek remedies for both legal and equitable relief. A business litigation lawyer can advocate on your behalf to request:
- Monetary damages for your company’s losses;
- An injunction ordering the person to comply with non-compete provisions; and,
- Other remedies allowed by law.
Reach Out to a Clearwater Employment Claims Lawyer to Discuss Non-Compete Agreements
Solid legal representation is essential when dealing with non-compete clauses, both in drafting an iron-clad agreement and when exercising your legal rights as a Florida business owner. For more information on how our attorneys can assist with protecting your company interests, please call Clearwater Business Law at (727) 785-5100 to set up a consultation.