What to do about a non-compete agreement that I signed?

UPDATED: May 12, 2013

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What to do about a non-compete agreement that I signed?

I worked at a home health service that made me sign a ocument stating that if I quit my job I could not own and open a home health within a 50 mile radius from the agency I worked for. This agency has 6 agencies each strategically about 100 miles apart. Is this legal and can I own a home health if I decide to open one?

Asked on May 12, 2013 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The fact that your former employer is well-situated geographically to stop you from opening your own home health business is irrelevant from a legal prespective: a non-competition agreement like the one you describe is enforceable against you. That said, non-competition agreements are NOT perpetual, especially not for non-executive staff or non-owners of the business (i.e. if someone sells a business, as part of the sale, he or she can be bound to a very long non-competion agreement). Courts will "blue pencil," or judicially modify, noncompetiton agreements that a former employee challenges and which are unconscionably or unreasonably too long. For most non-executive staff, a reasonable non-competition agreement would be around 6 months, and the longest that would usually be enforced is a year; therefore, it is likely--but not certain; you never know for sure until a case goes to trial--that if you challenged this agreement, you'd be able to open your own business sometime between 6 and 12 months after quitting.

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