Referred to legally as restrictive covenants, non-competes and similar agreements prevent an employee from engaging in certain activities after leaving an employer. The reasonable scope of restrictive covenants changes from state to state. In Pennsylvania, there is not an actual law that governs restrictive covenants.
Instead, the courts interpret each non-compete or similar agreement based on judicial precedent. If a Pennsylvania court determines that a non-compete is overly broad, then the agreement may be legally unenforceable.
HKM Employment Attorneys in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has garnered numerous awards across the United States in the service of employees and workers. Featuring a wealth of legal experience and ample resources, HKM Employment Attorneys represents employees against all types of employers. If you need legal help with a non-compete, contact us today to review your case.
Enforceability of Restrictive Covenants in Pennsylvania
On a larger level, the Pennsylvania courts disfavor non-competes and other restrictive covenants. These agreements restrict a person’s ability to engage freely in lawful employment activities. Consequently, the courts have a stringent review process for all restrictive covenants.
In deciding whether or not to enforce a restrictive covenant, the Pennsylvania courts will consider the following questions:
- Is the restrictive covenant necessary to protect a legitimate business interest?
- How reasonable are the time, scope, and geography of the restrictive covenant?
- Does the restrictive covenant protect trade secrets or other confidential information?
- Was the restrictive covenant signed at the start of or a change to employment?
- Did the employee receive a benefit for agreeing to the restrictive covenant?
While the list about is far from exhaustive, it demonstrates how the courts examine restrictive covenants. If the employer is overly broad or one-sided in their approach to non-competes, the Pennsylvania courts may strike down the agreement. Then the employee would be free to engage in any lawful employment activities with restriction.
Types of Restrictive Covenants in Pennsylvania
There are three commonly used restrictive covenants in the employment context:
- Non-Competition: This type of restrictive covenant prevents an employee from competing with their former employer after resignation or termination;
- Non-Solicitation of Clients: This type of restrictive covenant prevents an employee from taking their employer’s clients to a different company; and
- Non-Solicitation of Employees: This type of restrictive covenant prevents an employee from taking their colleagues to a different company.
As outlined previously, all restrictive covenants must be reasonable in time, scope and geography. As a result, there are severe limitations on the ability to prevent competition or solicitation in Pennsylvania.
Do You Need Legal Help from a Pittsburgh Employment Attorney?
Even though certain non-competes may be unenforceable, it is vital to review all employment agreements carefully before execution. HKM Employment Attorneys works with employees to protect their rights and negotiate balanced agreements. If you have legal questions about non-competes or other restrictive covenants, contact us today for an initial consultation.