When is a non-compete clause violated?

I am currently a loan officer at a bank and have signed a non compete clause. I am finding that lending is not something I enjoy. My non compete clause states “while I am employed by the company, and for 2 years afterward, I will not compete with the business of the company or its successors and assigns, within a radius of 30 miles from the any location of the company.” I have found a marketing position at a bank that is in excess of 30 miles, however this bank has a branch about 2 blocks away from the bank I am currently employed at. Would applying for this marketing position be in violation of the non compete clause since the branch the position is at is in excess of 30 miles?

Asked on June 27, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

For a more definitive answer, you need to bring the non-competition agreement to an attorney to review in detail--the specific language of the entire agreement is critical to understanding its effect. That said:

1) A very defensible reading of the language you quote is that since YOU are not competiting with a 30 mile radius (even if there is a branch which you are not working at which is within that radius), you would be fine.

2) Usually, non-competition agreements apply to the type of work you were doing, since the goal is to prevent you from using the knowledge or skills you acquired at employer A to compete with them from employer B. If you would not be a loan officer but would instead be in marketing, it may be that the clause would not apply at all.

3) Also, for non-owner or non-senior executive employees, courts will not generally enforce such a long non-competition clause; generally, for most staff, a year of non-competion would be about the longest period enforced.

Again though, to get a more definitive answer, you need an attorney to review the full agreement (since one clause may impact another) and also all the details of your job and situation with you.

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