While most employees in Oregon are at-will employees, some employees do have employment contracts. Most people think of employment contracts as being fairly simple agreements regarding how much an employee will be paid, what his or her job duties will be, when an employee can resign and when an employee can retire. But they have become much more complicated documents that include provisions that can bind an employee even after he or she leaves an employer. Once such kind of agreement is a non-competition agreement.
What is a Non-Competition Agreement?
A non-competition agreement is often called a non-compete clause. It usually involves an agreement under which an employee agrees not to enter into a similar profession or trade that would compete with the employer if and when the employee leaves the employment. In other words, if you worked for a company that designed widgets and you had a non-competition agreement, you would be agreeing that if you left the widget company you would not go out and start your own widget company that would compete with the original widget company.
Oregon Law on Non-Competition Agreements
Non-competition agreements in the State of Oregon are governed by Oregon Revised Statute 653.295. The default position under the law is that these agreements cannot be enforced. But there are criteria that can be met that would make such an agreement enforceable. These criteria are:
- The employer must inform the employee in a written employment offer at least two weeks before the employment begins that the non-compete agreement is required, or the agreement must be entered into upon a subsequent bona fide advancement of the employee by the employer;
- The employee must be an excluded employee as defined in Oregon Revised Statute 653.020; and
- The employee must have a protectable interest, such as having access to trade secrets.
If these criteria are met, non-compete clauses are still regulated. The term of non-competition cannot last more than two years after an employee’s termination. There are also further regulations of these agreements as they apply to on-air talent such as radio or television personalities. There are also rules that are substantially less favorable to employees that deal with receiving bonuses in exchange for agreeing not to compete.
Contact a Licensed Employment Law Attorney at HKM
Employment contracts can be written in very complex language. Even when they are not, the language used in these contracts can have a very different meaning in the legal context then it would in day-to-day conversation. If you are considering signing a contract or are considering leaving employment where you have a contract, you should contact a lawyer. Or, if you have left your employment already and your former employer is trying to enforce a contract provision against you, you should also contact an attorney. The attorneys at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP have a great deal of experience in handling employment contract cases, and would be happy to talk to you about your case. We can be reached at (503)389-1130, or you can contact us online by filling out our simple online form.