Some companies in Atlanta require all new employees to sign a non-compete agreement, before the final appointment and signing of the employment contract. Under Georgia law, this agreement helps business owners protect their business interests by prohibiting employees from engaging with competitors for a given time. The intent is to protect an employer’s patents, trade secrets, and proprietary processes from being used at a competitor.
Typically, a non-compete agreement or restrictive covenant limits re-employment of the subjects for a maximum of two years. During this period, an employee or a former employee cannot work for a competitor brand within a given geographical area. Additionally, you should not share specific trading secrets learned from the previous employer, or even be in business contact with former clients. These factors are outlined in the non-solicitation clause of the non-disclosure agreement.
When Is A Non-Compete Agreement Signed?
The time varies from company to company. For some companies, you sign the agreement two weeks before reporting for work. This gives you a window to reflect on the terms before signing the final contract of service. Others require you to sign the agreement on your first day at work. In case you get a new appointment within the company, you are also required to sign a non-competition agreement to match the new position.
Limitations of the Agreement
Although non-competes aim to protect the employer, some of the terms can seem overly confining to the employee. Hence limiting their enforceability. Traditionally, the Georgia courts generally enforce non-competes. In this context, all the terms regardless of how unreasonable were to be followed to the letter.
However, under the current law, courts are utilizing the ‘blue-penciling’ policy. With the development, the court can permanently modify any unreasonable restrictions and enforce the modified agreement. For instance, if the jury feels that a five-year employment limitation is too harsh, it can slash it to about two years. Then enforce the new NCA as revised.
What is the Reasonable Duration Time or Geographic Scope for a Non-Compete Agreement?
Often, the courts tie the geographical scope of a non-compete agreement to the time factor, before determining its legitimacy. For example, if the geographic location prohibited is very broad, then the time must be short for the NCA to be legally binding.
The court also considers the services provided by the former employer. Logically, if the latter is not in the same business line as the former, then the court cannot limit the employee regardless of the location.
Consequences of Breaching a Non-Compete Agreement
If you violate a non-compete agreement, then be ready for a court battle with your former employer. Non-compliers are subjected to hefty damage charges, and in some cases, the court can bar you from proceeding with the new employer. And in the end, you are required to pay for all the expenses.
Review a non-compete agreement thoroughly before signing. If you’re unsure what some of the language means, contact HKM Employment Attorneys to decipher the legalese. We can negotiate separation agreements in your employment contracts. You should understand employment agreements before committing to them. In case there are arcane clauses in the agreement, ensure you get legal advice from your Atlanta non-compete law firm. We work with clients from Marietta, Roswell, Alpharetta, and all points around Fulton County.