Is my non-compete enforceable?

It reads that I can’t work for the same type of company for 3 years within a 50 mile radius. I’ve been told this

isn’t enforceable. Also, my employer let an attorney go to a firm practicing the same type of law and I’m just support staff.

Asked on December 12, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Non-competition agreements are enforceable in your state, but the agreement you describe is not enforceable as written: rather, if your employer were to try to enforce this against you, a court would "blue pencil" (basically, edit) it to an enforceable agreement and hold you to that.
In your state (and most), a non-compete is only enforceable to protect the employer's legitimate interests in not having a former employee compete (or help another compete) with it. That means that--
1) it would be enforceable only against firms that actually compete with your employer--if you work for a personal injury firm, it would prevent you from working for other PI firms, but not for real estate, landlord-tenant, corporate, intellectual property, family law, criminal law, etc. firms;
2) 3 years is almost always too long a time period except for the most senior employees, whose competition could do the most damage--for support staff, assume it could be enforced against you for 6 - 12 months, no more.

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