Non-compete covenants or non-compete clauses can act as legal and practical protective measures for companies. Non-compete covenants typically restrict an employee from working for the competition in the interest of preserving trade secrets, client lists, and business plans. Under Mississippi law, a non-compete covenant must not unduly restrict trade and must generally serve a legitimate, protectable business interest. When drafted properly, non-compete covenants can protect business from losing the intellectual property and client relationshipss they have worked so hard to build. However, a non-compete agreement that is either too broad or too narrow will not be enforceable under the law. This is why it is important to speak to a non-compete covenant lawyer if you wish to protect your business using a non-compete clause. The Heilman Law Group, PA are attorneys in Jackson, Mississippi who may be able to assist you in drafting a non-compete clause that will be more likely to be enforced should it need to be taken to court.
A non-compete covenant must be enforceable in order for it to be valid in Mississippi. The Mississippi courts generally read non-compete covenants with strict interpretation of the law, meaning that the company must prove that the non-compete agreement balances protecting free trade and a company’s legitimate business interests. What should a non-compete agreement contain?
• A timeframe: The timeframe for the non-compete covenant must be reasonable and every industry has its own standards. A non-compete covenant lawyer can help you understand what timeframes are reasonable for your industry.
• Limit the clause to a narrow scope: A clause that restricts an employee from working with customers or clients of the employer will be more likely to be upheld than a non-compete clause that restricts the employee from working in the field altogether.
• Consider whether the employee will receive severance: When a non-compete covenant is accompanied by severance pay that reasonably covers the employee for the period the non-compete is in effect, the non-compete clause will be more likely to be seen favorably.
• Reasonable geographic scope: Consider the areas you want the covenant to be in effect. National non-compete covenants are often used by companies with international interests. It can be difficult to enforce non-compete covenants across state lines.
Non-compete covenants can protect your client list and your business when properly drafted. They can also serve as a deterrent from employees using trade secrets elsewhere. However, in order for a non-compete covenant to be enforceable, it must have proper scope and clear wording. A non-compete covenant attorney like the lawyers at the Heilman Law Group, PA may be able to help you protect your business.
According to the New York Times, non-compete covenants have “become pervasive and standard” in many industries. In some cases, these clauses are tucked away in employment contracts. In other cases, workers are so desperate to enter a field and find employment, they sign non-compete agreements unaware they may be signing away important rights. If you are an employee and have signed a non-compete agreement, it is important to understand the scope of non-compete agreements within the law. Mississippi law protects free trade and, in order for a non-compete to be enforceable, it must be reasonable in scope.
Yet, before you sign away on the bottom line, consider the following:
• Is the non-compete clause reasonable in regional scope?
• Are you being barred from working in the whole industry, or just for a few competitors?
• How long does the non-compete agreement last? Anything more than a year, may be too long.
• Under what terms is the non-compete binding? For instance, some non-compete clauses are only binding if you leave.
• Are you required to pay legal fees if the company takes you to court?
If you are unsure about whether a non-compete agreement will limit your ability to work in a field, it may be wise to consult with a non-compete covenant lawyer before signing away important rights in your employment contract. You can always negotiate the terms, especially if you want the job. Contact the Jackson, Mississippi non-compete covenant lawyers at the Heilman Law Group, PA today.
Non-compete covenants often serve to protect a company’s most valuable assets—whether these are client lists, trade secrets, training secrets, or other assets. If you are facing a challenge to a non-compete covenant in Jackson, Mississippi, a non-compete covenant lawyer may be able to help you. At the Heilman Law Group, PA, we can, review your non-compete covenant to make it more likely to be enforceable in court. We can also offer advice on your rights if you are considering suing a former employee for breaching a non-compete covenant. If you are facing challenges in Jackson, Mississippi, contact the Heilman Law Group, PA to learn more about your options.