How enforceable are non-compete agreements?

My partner is interviewing at a few companies as an outpatient therapist. We are also starting our own company

in the same field. Two companies have made her offers but have non-competes. Are they legal in HI? If so, how are they enforced? Is there any way around them?

Asked on February 21, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Hawaii

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Noncompetition agreements are enforceable so long as they can be shown to be reasonably necessary to the company, to prevent an employee from unfairly using information, contacts, skills, experience, etc. acquired at a company from competing against it, and are reasonably limited or tailored in duration and geographic scope (area) to accomplish that. 
I am not familiar with your industry, but in supplemental educational publishing, where I used to work, a sales rep might cover an entire state. A noncompetition agreement banning him or her from working for a competiting company selling books in that state for a school year would bve enforceable, since the area (a state) and duration (a school year) would be reasonable for that purpose.
On the other end of the spectrum, while hair stylists develop loyal followings, it's typically local: people generally don't drive miles out of their way for a hair cut. And people can switch loyalty quickly. So a reasonable noncompete for a hairdresser might be no competition in a five-mile radius for 6 months. 
So in short, the noncompetitions would be enforceable. The extent to which (length of time; area) depends on the specifics of your industry.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Noncompetition agreements are enforceable so long as they can be shown to be reasonably necessary to the company, to prevent an employee from unfairly using information, contacts, skills, experience, etc. acquired at a company from competing against it, and are reasonably limited or tailored in duration and geographic scope (area) to accomplish that. 
I am not familiar with your industry, but in supplemental educational publishing, where I used to work, a sales rep might cover an entire state. A noncompetition agreement banning him or her from working for a competiting company selling books in that state for a school year would bve enforceable, since the area (a state) and duration (a school year) would be reasonable for that purpose.
On the other end of the spectrum, while hair stylists develop loyal followings, it's typically local: people generally don't drive miles out of their way for a hair cut. And people can switch loyalty quickly. So a reasonable noncompete for a hairdresser might be no competition in a five-mile radius for 6 months. 
So in short, the noncompetitions would be enforceable. The extent to which (length of time; area) depends on the specifics of your industry.


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