Ohio Non-Compete Agreement AttorneysThere are some very important factors to consider in drafting, enforcing, or trying to avoid a non-compete agreement. The attorneys at Harris & Engler help people and businesses with issues related to non-compete agreements as well with other business issues. The law firm of Harris & Engler is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, and its' attorneys help those needing legal services all over Ohio.
Enforcing Non-Compete Agreements in OhioA non-compete agreement prohibits a former employee from working in competition with their former employer. Non-compete agreements will generally only be enforced to the extent reasonably necessary to protect the employer's legitimate business interests.
Non-Compete agreements generally prohibit a former employee from leaving the business to start their own competing business, or working for a competitor. These agreements usually restrict the employee in a few ways:
(1) Restrict the former employee from competing within a certain amount of time (usually a year or two);
(2) Restrict the former employee from competing with the buisness within a certain geographic area; and
(3) Non-Compete agreements usually contain a non-solicitation clause that prohibits the former employee from communicating with the former employer's customers.
The Ohio Supreme Court rendered an important decision on the enforceability of non-compete agreements in Raimonde v. Van Vlerah, 42 Ohio St.2d 21 (1975). In Raimond, the Court decided that courts in Ohio will only enforce non-compete agreements to the extent necessary to protect the employer's legitimate interests. Courts have the power to modify unreasonable non-compete agreements to the extent necessary to make them reasonable. A non-compete agreement is considered reasonable if the restriction on the employee is no greater than is required for the protection of the employer, does not impose undue hardship on the employee, and is not injurious to the public.
Courts will look at a number of factors in determining whether or not a non-compete agreement is reasonable. Some of these factors include:
(1) Limitations on time and space;
(2) Whether the employee represents the sole contact with the customer;
(3) Whether the employee is possessed with confidential information or trade secrets;
(4) Whether the non-compete agreement seeks to eliminate competition which would be unfair to the employer or merely seeks to eliminate ordinary competition;
(5) Whether the agreement seeks to stifle the inherent skill and experience of the employee;
(6) Whether the benefit to the employer is disproportional to the detriment to the employee;
(7) Whether the agreement operates as a bar to the employee's sole means of support;
(8) Whether the employee's talent which the employer seeks to suppress was actually developed during the period of employment;
(9) Whether the forbidden employment is merely incidental to the main employment.
There is a large amount of case law on precisely what kind of time limits and geographical limits are unreasonable. An attorney at Harris & Engler can advise you on the reasonableness of your non-compete agreement or draft one for you.
Drafting Non-Compete AgreementsA non-compete agreement should be specifically tailored to the employer's needs by an attorney experienced with doing so. There are a number of factors to consider, such as the inclusion of a non-solicitation clause, whether the employee must be compensated for entering into the agreement, and a number of concerns specific to the industry. Primary concerns are preventing the decimination of trade secrets and preventing unfair competition. If you need a skillfully drafted non-compete agreement, then contact an attorney at Harris & Engler.
Non-Compete Agreement Lawsuits in OhioEven with a carefully crafted non-compete agreement, sometimes the agreement simply gets ignored and broken. The remedy for businesses with former employees who break their non-compete agreements is to file a lawsuit against the former employee. Filing a lawsuit is especially important if the business fears that the former employee will steal customers or steal trade secrets.
Typically, the goal sought in a breach of a non-compete agreement lawsuit is for the business to obtain an injunction and to be compensated for their damages. Obtaining an injunction would essentially be obtaining a court order that prevents the employee from working for a competitor or that enforces the terms of the non-compete agreement. Because lawsuits can often take a while to get a result, a business would also want to obtain a temporary injunction. A temporary injunction would be an order of the court that prevents the former employee from breaching the non-compete agreement while the lawsuit it being litigated. This would give the business the relief it is seeking very quickly, but often a bond has to be put up by the business while the case is being litigated.