If I signed a non-compete letter for my employer 4 years ago when I started but a competitor in another state offered me a job, is the non compete still binding?

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If I signed a non-compete letter for my employer 4 years ago when I started but a competitor in another state offered me a job, is the non compete still binding?

Asked on July 8, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you are still at your current employer, then yes, the non-compete is still binding--they remain in effect for the whole duration of your employment, no matter how long that is. Non-competes can, *at most* restrict you as per their terms--i.e. for the length of time, and in the geographic areas or markets they indicate. And if the non-competes are too long or too broad, so that they would effectively prevent you from earning a living elsewhere, courts will often "blue pencil" them or cut them back to levels which the courts feel balance your need to make a living with the employer's legitimate interest in preventing its former employees from immediately or promptly competing with it. For example, for most employees, a two year non-compete might be cut back to 6 months to one year maximum; if your employer only markets in a certain geographic area, a court might restrict the non-compete's effect to that area; etc. You are advised to take a copy of your non-compete to an employment law attorney who can review it with you and advise you of your rights and options.


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