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Non-Compete Agreements

NJ Non-Compete Agreement Attorneys Help Protect Employees’ Future Careers

Hackensack lawyers explain limits of restrictive covenants

When employees sign non-compete agreements, they’re 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 NJ non-compete attorneys thoroughly explain what your covenant not to compete means and whether it has been breached.

What is a non-compete agreement?

Whether you’re in the final stages of a job search or already working, you may be asked to sign a restrictive covenant such as a non-compete agreement. A non-compete is a contract with an employer that may prohibit the 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’re presented with a non-compete agreement, one of our employment lawyers can review the document, assess its legality and possibly negotiate more favorable terms.

Are non-compete agreements legal in NJ?

It’s 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 contract’s geographical limitation 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 wouldn’t be upheld in court.
  • 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? Such restrictions might 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’s reasonable for an employer to include non-compete clauses in executive employment agreements but not in agreements with 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 ruled overly broad and unenforceable.

Pre-employment review of a non-compete “agreement”

Before you sign a non-compete agreement, we will review it in depth, explain what it requires of you and advise whether or not the terms are reasonable. We will suggest revisions and, if the employer is amenable, re-negotiate the terms for you.

Post-termination advice

If you plan on leaving your company, we can review your non-compete agreement and advise you on its legality, including the limits of its enforceability.

Violating a non-compete agreement

If your non-compete agreement prevents you from pursuing the types of career opportunities that best fit your qualifications or interests, you may decide to challenge the agreement’s validity on the following grounds:

  • 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 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 employees in civil lawsuits filed by employers.

Contact a New Jersey employment agreement attorney

If you signed a non-compete agreement, the experienced attorneys of Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in Hackensack, New Jersey can offer guidance and advice regarding your rights and liabilities. To schedule a consultation, call 551-245-8894 or contact us online.

Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch

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 his…

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Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

Bruce L. Atkins is the Senior Managing Partner at Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt P.C., a prominent plaintiff employment law firm in the tri-state area. Mr. Atkins believes employees’ rights should be aggressively pursued when they’ve been wrongfully dealt with by their employers. He brings this philosophy to his practice when considering each case and its…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt

Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigation 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 his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict in a sexual…

Debra M. McGarvey Attorney Photo
Debra M. McGarvey

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), the…

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Carly Skarbnik Meredith

Carly Skarbnik Meredith, Esq. is a Partner at the firm. Carly has focused her career exclusively in the field of employment law. She has a plethora of experience representing both employees and employers with their employment issues, needs, and concerns. She believes representing both employees and employers has made her an extremely well-rounded client advocate.…


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