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Non-Compete Agreements

Strategic New Jersey Attorneys Challenge Non-Compete Agreements

Respected Hackensack employment lawyers explain limits of non-competes

When employees sign non-compete agreements, they are promising not to compete with their employer’s business while employed by the company and for a specified amount of time after leaving. Contract disputes typically occur when either the employer or employee fails to understand their rights and duties under the agreement and New Jersey law. At Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in Hackensack, our attorneys thoroughly explain what your covenant not to compete means. We can also determine whether it has been breached.

What is a non-compete agreement?

Whether you are in the final stages of a job search or you are already working for a company, you may be asked to sign a restrictive covenant such as a non-compete agreement. A non-compete agreement is a contract between an employer and an employee that may prohibit an employee from:

  • Starting or operating a competing business while working for the employer
  • Going to work for a direct competitor of the employer after leaving the company

Non-competes are usually intended to prevent the employee from using information or training gained from the employer to benefit another business.

If you are presented with a non-compete agreement, one of our employment lawyers can review the document, assess its legality and possibly negotiate more favorable terms.

When is a non-compete agreement valid and enforceable?

It is critical to understand if a non-compete contract is enforceable under New Jersey law. Every contract is unique, but in general, the following factors will determine whether the agreement is valid in New Jersey:

  • Geographical restrictions — Is the geographical limitation in the contract too far-reaching? Does it place an undue burden on the employee’s ability to find other employment where he or she currently lives? Geographic restrictions are typically considered in conjunction with time duration to assess their reasonableness.
  • Job limitations — Do the employment restrictions reasonably apply to the employer’s business? Are the restrictions limited to working for current competitors or recruiting from current client lists? If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” the agreement probably would not be upheld in a court of law.
  • Time duration — Does the term of the non-compete agreement protect only the employer’s short-term business or does it exceed the time it takes to reasonably adjust to the loss of the employee? An agreement that intends to limit competition for a prolonged period is likely invalid.
  • Restrictions on investment opportunities — Does the agreement place unnecessary restrictions on the ability of an employee to invest in a competitor? These types of restrictions can be too burdensome to withstand scrutiny.
  • Function or status of employee — Do the employee’s job responsibilities serve an essential function sufficient to warrant a covenant not to compete? Often, it is unreasonable for an employer to include non-compete clauses for employees throughout their organization.

Courts strictly review non-compete agreements to ensure that employees are not forced out of their town or profession in search of work. If a non-compete prohibits you from using professional skills that you developed over the years, the restrictions are likely to be found overly broad and unenforceable.

Can I challenge a non-compete agreement required by my employer?

If your non-compete agreement is preventing you from pursuing the type of career opportunities that best fit your qualifications or interests, you may decide to challenge the validity of the non-compete. Common reasons for challenging non-compete agreements include:

  • Employer fired you without cause
  • Employer breached terms of an employment contract first
  • No legitimate business interest is served by enforcing the non-compete
  • Employer took unlawful or unjust action in regard to the agreement
  • Non-compete agreement includes unreasonable terms that should make it unenforceable
  • Enforcement of the agreement would unlawfully restrain trade or competition
  • You only signed the agreement as a result of deception by the employer
  • You cannot obey by the non-compete and earn a living

Speak to a lawyer if you believe you’re being improperly constrained by the terms of a non-compete agreement. One of our attorneys can examine the document you signed and advise you on your legal rights and obligations. We also defend clients in civil lawsuits filed by employers.

Contact determined New Jersey non-compete agreement attorneys for professional help

If you signed a non-compete agreement and want to know your rights and duties under it, the experienced attorneys of Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in Hackensack, New Jersey can offer guidance and advice. We also have offices in Manhattan and Rockland County. To schedule a consultation with an attentive employment lawyer, call 551-245-8894 or contact us online.

Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch
Retired

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
Senior Partner

About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey’s premier practitioners of employment and civil litigation. He has been selected to the New Jersey Super Lawyers prestigious list every year since 2005.  This honor, bestowed upon a recipient by the votes of his peers, is a powerful nod to the skill Mr. Atkins…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt
Partner

About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigations such as discrimination, retaliation, and whistle blowing matters.  He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for some of his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict…

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Diane Englander Peyser
Attorney

About Diane Englander Peyser joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in September 2018 where she represents employees in wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination matters. Prior to joining Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C., Diane represented clients in all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees involving unemployment appeals, claims of sexual harassment, LGBT discrimination,…

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Debra M. McGarvey
Attorney

About Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA),…

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