How valid is a non-compete agreement?

I have signed a non-compete agreement with my employer and with the way they are treating us employees, I am trying to go work for a new employer in the same field. I would like to know how valid is my non-compete and if it will hold up in court? If someone with some expertise in this field could help me out, it would be greatly appreciated. There is a bunch of us employees that are struggling with this company and would love to leave and work for other contracters that will treat us better but we are afraid of the legal ramifications.

Asked on September 3, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Washington

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

In WA, non-compete agreements are generally enforced by the courts. In order to be valid sethe agreements must meet a 3-part test: The restraint on the employee’s future employment must be reasonably necessary to protect the business of the employer; the agreement must not impose limits on the employee greater than necessary to protect the employer; and the restraint must not cause undue harm to the public by losing the skill and/or service of the employee in the competing field. Additionally, the non-compete can't be unreasonably broad in scope. This means that the geographic area and/or the period time for which the employee’s work is restrained must be limited. Further, an employer must demonstrate that a valid contract was formed and that the employee was provided valuable consideration by the employer (i.e. specialized training, marketable skills, etc.) in exchange for the employee’s promise not to compete.


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