Non-Compete Agreements in Florida: Understanding When They May Be Unenforceable

Non-compete agreements, also known as restrictive covenants, are legal contracts designed to prevent employees from competing against their employer for a certain period of time after their employment ends. While these agreements are commonly used to protect a business`s trade secrets, intellectual property, and customer relationships, they are not always enforceable in Florida.

Under Florida law, non-compete agreements may be unenforceable in certain circumstances, such as:

1. Duration: Non-compete agreements in Florida cannot be enforced for more than two years, except in limited circumstances. If an agreement exceeds two years, it is highly likely that a court would consider it unenforceable.

2. Scope: The scope of a non-compete agreement must be reasonable. It cannot be overly broad or vague. The agreement must specifically identify the type of business, products, or services that the employee is restricted from competing in. If the agreement is too broad, a court may consider it unenforceable.

3. Geography: Non-compete agreements must be limited to a specific geographic area. The restriction cannot be statewide unless there is a legitimate business reason for it. If the restriction is too broad, a court may consider it unenforceable.

4. Legitimate business interest: Non-compete agreements must protect a legitimate business interest. This means that the agreement must be necessary to protect the employer`s trade secrets, confidential information, or customer goodwill. If the agreement does not protect a legitimate business interest, a court may consider it unenforceable.

5. Employment termination: A non-compete agreement in Florida must be signed at the time of hire or promotion, or it must be supported by additional consideration (such as a bonus or stock options) if signed after the employee has begun working. If the agreement was not signed at the appropriate time and/or there was no additional consideration given, a court may consider it unenforceable.

It is important to note that even if a non-compete agreement is deemed unenforceable, an employer may still pursue legal action against an employee for breach of other contractual obligations, such as a duty of loyalty or confidentiality.

In conclusion, non-compete agreements in Florida may be unenforceable if they exceed two years, are overly broad, lack a reasonable geographic scope, do not protect a legitimate business interest, or are not signed at the appropriate time or supported by additional consideration. If you have any questions or concerns about a non-compete agreement, it is best to consult with a qualified legal professional.