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Should You Sign a Non-Compete Agreement?

It is common for employers to ask employees to sign a non-compete agreement prior to accepting a position. Essentially, the purpose of a non-compete agreement is to prevent an employee from revealing a company’s ideas, sales leads and other confidential information to competitors over a certain period of time and/or within a certain geographical location.

The idea is that by the time the non-compete agreement expires, the protected information will no longer be relevant to the competitive landscape or industry. In addition, non-compete agreements prevent employers from blatantly “stealing” each other’s employees.

Thus, the question becomes, should you sign a non-compete agreement? If you applied for a position and the employer has requested that you sign a non-compete, you should consult with a lawyer prior to signing. He or she can explain to you that you should ask the following questions about a non-compete before you sign it:

  • How long does the agreement restrict you? Is the time period unreasonable?
  • Does the agreement cover a broad geographical area? Or does it focus on a specific location?
  • How specific is the non-compete agreement? Does it say you can’t work in a certain industry at all?
  • What are the consequences you face if you break the agreement?
  • Are you exempt from the agreement if you are fired?

Non-compete agreements seek to primarily protect employers, not employees. Depending on the type of agreement your employer offers you, you may find yourself unable to work in your particular field for a certain period of time.

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Neil H. Deutsch
Senior Partner

About Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for…

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Bruce L. Atkins
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About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey's premiere practitioners of employment and civil litigation. Mr. Atkins has also been included in the Thomson Reuters list of New Jersey Super Lawyers* in Employment Litigation since 2005. Mr. Atkins believes employees have rights that should be aggressively pursued when an employer has wrongfully dealt…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt
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