Can my employer keep me from working within 10 miles of former place of employment?

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Can my employer keep me from working within 10 miles of former place of employment?

My employee contract states that I cannot provide my service directly or indirectly within 10 miles of my employer’s place of business. I want to work at a location within the ten miles and providing my service for another company that in no way is in competition with my employer. My contract goes into detail how they want to protect company interests, reputation, etc. If I cease employment I will not owe them any bonus money or funds of any type. I will have given sufficient notice also. Can they sue me if I quit and work within that ten mile limit even though there is no competition?

Asked on February 24, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Yes, they could sue you under the contract you voluntarily signed or agreed to--if you didn't want to take the chance that you'd have to adhere to or live with those terms, you should not have signed the contract (even if that then meant not getting the job, or losing it if you already had it). As a general matter, contracts which people voluntarily enter into are enforceable; more specifically, restrictions on employment are also enforceable, so long as they are not too broad in scope or long in duration.

It is possible that a blanket prohibition against any employment in that 10 mile radius would be considered too broad--therefore, it is possible that you would win the lawsuit, if sued. Certainly, it is unusual to restrict from all emploment, not merely competitive employment. However, from what  you write, if there is a contract stating this, the company could at least initiate a lawsuit, forcing you to spend time and money defending itself; and depending on the cirumstances (e.g. how many job opportunities exist in your area outside the 1o-mile radius?) it is not impossible that it would be found reasonable enough to be enforceable.

 


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