How long does a non-compete cintract run?

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How long does a non-compete cintract run?

Upon beginning working with a company, I had signed a contract. I was employed as an independent contractor and was given a client to work with. The contract I signed said I was not to be found working with the client outside of their purchased time period with the company. My client has since ceased purchasing with this company and I have not worked with them for 5 months. I no longer have been given any work not opportunity for work with any other clients by said company. My former client recently contacted me to start working again, but does not want to go through the company. If I were to resign my position as a contractor with the company, is that contract still binding? It has no end dates listed on the contract. .

Asked on May 5, 2014 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Non-competition agreements are valid and enforceable against both employees and non-employee independent contractors. For employees, courts will typically impute a "reasonable" time period, such as 6 - 12 months; however, for true independent contractors (i.e. people who are not really employees who are being improperly paid on a 1099 basis for tax, benefits, or liability reasons), courts are not as protective--in theory, a true indendent contractor is another  "business" contracting on a more-equal basis, and so is in less need of less protection.

Further complicating matters is that a non-competition agreement and a non-solicitation agreement are separate things, though they are often confused. A non-competition agreement is that you will not compete, whether with old customers or new; a non-solicitation agreement is that you will not work for or with customers of the your employer. A non-solicitation agreement will be enforced for longer than a non-compeitition agreement, on the theory that while it is  unfair to keep you from working in your field for too long, there is nothing unfair about saying your can't work with customers you only came into contact with due to your employment.

From  what you write, the agreement in question may be more of a non-solicitation than non-competition agreement; also, it is an open question about whether you are truly an independent contractor or not. Therefore, there is no way to definitively answer your question, and you should consult with an attorney who can evaluate the agreement and your situation in detail.

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

I suggest that you consult with a business attorney in your locality as to the validity if the "non compete contract". Most contracts that you have written about are invalid unless the "non compete" is tied to the sale of a business. Such an attorney can be found on attorneypages.com.


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