Non-Compete Agreements and Restrictive Covenants

Non-compete agreements and restrictive covenants protect businesses from competition against certain people (or other businesses) as a contractual right. Non-compete agreements are enforceable to the extent that they meet the requirements of Florida statutes and case law. 

Fla. Stat. 542.335 provides that a restrictive covenant, meaning an agreement that restricts someone from doing something, can be enforced if it is in a writing signed by the person against whom it is sought to be enforced and so long as the restriction can is reasonable in terms of its geographic, time and trade area constraints.  What is reasonable in any circumstance is a case-by-case determination; however, there are some presumptions in the law.  For instance, the law presumes that, for any non-compete agreement sought to be enforced against a former employee, any restriction for 6 months or less is presumed to be reasonable, but any restriction of more than 2 years is presumed to be unreasonable.  The presumptions can be overcome under certain circumstances.

Non-compete agreements must also protect a legitimate business interest.  There are many different things that could constitute a legitimate business interest such as trade secrets, extraordinary training, valuable confidential information, relationships with prospective or actual customers or good will.

A lawsuit which is related to the enforcement of a non-compete agreement generally seeks for a court to grant two types of relief: an injunction (a court order preventing the defendant from competing) and damages (payment of money for harm caused to the Plaintiff).  A business attempting to protect itself in this type of lawsuit usually seeks a temporary injunction at the start of the litigation to order the defendant to cease competing immediately.  The standard for obtaining an injunction is high because an injunction is considered to be "extraordinary relief".  However, the stakes for such a request are also high for both litigants: businesses that are concerned that their former employee or partner is competing unfairly and for the ex-employee or partner who generally must be able to continue in their line of work.  The Plaintiff in such a case must present evidence and argue successfully that each element necessary for injunctive relief exists and must also put up a bond if successful.

Injunctions can be mandatory or prohibitive.  A mandatory injunction means that the party is ordered to do something, such as return confidential information.  A prohibitive injunction means that the party is ordered not to do something, such as prohibiting them from working in a certain line of business for a certain time.

At Brick Business Law, we litigate cases involving both enforcement and defense of non-compete agreements. We pursue and defend non-compete claims in Florida.   We also draft and advise on the enforceability of non-compete agreements.  If someone has accused you of breaching a non-compete agreement or if your business needs a non-compete agreement to be enforced, please contact Brick Business Law immediately for a free initial consultation.