Employers occasionally ask their employees to sign non-compete agreements, which are contracts that can be used to prevent an employee who leaves a company from engaging in business activities that would compete with the business of their former employer. These restrictions are not without their limits in scope; normally, employees who sign non-compete contracts agree not to engage in competing business only for a specific period of time, and/or within a specific geographic region.
Since non-compete agreements can sometimes unreasonably restrict an employee’s chances of finding new work, Oregon courts and lawmakers tend to look at them closely (and with a good deal of suspicion) in deciding whether they are valid. In 2007, the Oregon legislature enacted a law (codified in Oregon Revised Statutes § 653.295) that sharply restricts the use of non-compete agreements. Under the new law, the enforceability of non-compete clauses rests on four general issues:
- Written Notice – If an employer is hiring a new employee, he or she must inform that new employee, in writing, at least two weeks before his or her first day of work that the non-compete is a requirement of employment. If the employer wants to have an existing employee sign a non-compete, it must be accompanied by a real promotion (it must be something more substantial than just a new title).
- Type of Employee Non-compete agreements can only be enforced against certain types of workers: salaried employees who engage in administrative, executive, or professional work and who perform predominantly intellectual, managerial or creative tasks where they exercise discretion and independent judgment.
- Employer’s “Protectable Interest” – Employers must also show that a non-compete agreement is necessary, because they have a “protectable interest,” such as trade secrets or other confidential business information to which the employee will have access. Under certain circumstances, media employers also have a ‘protectable interest’ in the effort they put in to recruit and promote on-air broadcasters.
- Employee’s Salary – In certain cases, employers also must show that the employee’s income is higher than what the United States Census Bureau has determined to be the median family income for a four-person family.
Video with Attorney Daniel Kalish
Legal Assistance with Non-Compete Agreements in Oregon
If you have been accused of violating a non-compete agreement, a Portland employment lawyer can advise as to your best course of action and assist with your defense. If you need clarification regarding the actions you are or are not free to take in your upcoming business ventures, an attorney can provide guidance. The right legal counsel can protect you from unwarranted attacks and help you to maintain a safe legal standing. It is also wise to confer with an attorney before signing a non-compete agreement, as legal professional can review such a contract to ensure you are not being placed at an unfair disadvantage.
Portland Employment Law Attorney
At HKM Employment Attorneys, we use our combined experience of approximately 40 years to deliver top quality representation to our clients. We will take immediate steps to familiarize ourselves fully with all aspects of your situation and from there determine the best approach. Our attorneys have all had prior experience at some of the most prestigious firms in the Northwest and almost all have a perfect 10 “Superb” rating on Avvo.com. It is this level of commitment and professionalism with which we serve you.
Contact a Portland employment law attorney for all of your legal needs relating to non-compete agreements.