Is There a Way Around Non-Competes?

In Georgia, non-compete agreements are only applicable to certain categories of employees, but if you are one of those types of employees, then the non-compete agreement you signed is probably legally enforceable.

At their best, non-compete agreements are a way for your boss to continue bossing you around even after you are no longer working at your job. At their worst, they are a legally binding threat of, “You’ll never work in this town again.” In a non-compete agreement, the employee promises not to engage in certain business activities that compete directly with the employer during his or her employment with the employer or for a reasonably brief period after the employment relationship ends. If you think it is unfair for your employer to tell you what kind of work you can and cannot do at your next job, you are right. The other side of the argument is that non-compete agreements, along with non-disclosure agreements, enable employers to protect trade secrets to which employees are naturally exposed in the course of their work. Sometimes non-compete clauses occur as part of employment contracts, but sometimes they are free-standing agreements that the employee signs before or after they begin working. Non-compete covenants are not appropriate in every employment situation, but under the right circumstances, they are legally enforceable. The Norcross corporate law attorneys at Zimmerman & Associates can help you resolve disputes related to non-compete agreements.

When are Non-Compete Agreements Legally Valid in Georgia?

Until recently, employers often used non-compete agreements to intimidate employees into staying at their current jobs instead of looking for better-paying ones. In 2021, 20% of employees without a bachelor’s degree, but with an employment contract, were subject to non-compete provisions in their employment contracts. A federal executive order urged the Federal Trade Commission to take action against employers who misused non-compete agreements; for example, it would not be justifiable for a hospital to make a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) sign an agreement not to work as a nurse at another hospital in the Atlanta area within two years of leaving her current job.

Georgia’s Restrictive Covenants Act also protects employees against unfairly restrictive non-compete agreements. Pursuant to this law, the only employees against whom non-compete provisions are enforceable are salespeople, managers with the authority to hire and fire employees, and key professionals. The law leaves the definition of “key professionals” vague, but in practice, it means employees who are party to the employer’s trade secrets and business decisions. Likewise, the law requires non-compete agreements to indicate a limited timeframe, a limited scope, and a limited geographic area. It is unfair to say that you can never open a business similar to your former employer’s business, but it is reasonable to say that you cannot do it within 30 miles of your previous employer’s company address, within two years of the end of the employment relationship.

Contact Zimmerman & Associates About Non-Compete Cases in Georgia

An Atlanta corporate law attorney can represent you in a non-compete agreement dispute.  Contact Zimmerman & Associates in Norcross, Georgia, to set up a consultation.