Are Non-Compete Agreements Legal and Valid in Illinois?

IL Business Lawyer, Illinois employment attorneyIf you are on the job hunt or have recently been hired by a new company, it is important that you review the contract given to you by your new employer. Many new hires will sign employment contracts relieved to have found a job rather than skeptical about the contract’s details. No matter how much your employer appears to explain the contract in front of you, there is always the chance that some details are being left out. One of the terms that you may overlook is a non-compete agreement hidden within the pages of text. Many employers will be upfront about this agreement to avoid any future contention while others may fail to mention what this means for you as an employee of their company. In order to avoid this confusion, you should always take the time to review your hiring contract with a reputable business attorney.

What is a Non-Compete Agreement?

Evident in the name, this contractual agreement restricts employees from working for or becoming a competitor for a set period of time. These non-compete agreements, also known as covenants not to compete (CNC), are enforced when an employee separates from their employer and the employer wants to prevent the employee from taking on a position that would be considered their competitor. Depending on the details of the agreement, these CNC regulations can last weeks, months, or even years after leaving your place of employment. This is meant to protect the company’s secrets and to keep the employee from poaching other employees to work alongside them.

In order for the non-compete agreement to be considered valid, there is particular information that must be included:

  1. The effective start date of the agreement.
  2. The reasoning for the purpose of the agreement.
  3. Specified dates in which the employee will be unable to work in a competitive sense and geographical location outlined in the agreement.
  4. Information on how the employee will be compensated for agreeing to these terms.

How Broad Can These Go?

For obvious reasons, CNC agreements must have specifications for what is considered “competition.” If these descriptions are too broad, the non-compete agreement may be deemed invalid in a court of law. In 2018, the Illinois court saw a lawsuit in which the employee claimed that the agreement was too broad to be considered valid and enforceable. The agreement in question prohibited the employee from being employed to any extent by any company that works in the same business as the employer within 50 miles of the company’s office. This included taking a position that had no relevance to their previous position, such as janitorial work. Looking at this agreement, the terms deny the individual’s ability to hold a job within a reasonable distance of their home. For this reason, the court sided with the employee stating that the agreement was much too broad to be considered valid. This is one instance in which the court took the employee’s side; however, more often than not, the employer is granted their wishes.

Call a DuPage County Covenants Not to Compete Lawyer

No one intends on having the same job forever, but some may feel as if they must stay in their position due to the details of their contract. It is not unheard of for CNC agreements to act as a tool to keep employees in their position by restricting their ability to find another job. If you feel as if your contract is unreasonable, you should have a Wheaton non-compete agreement attorney read the terms and conditions of the CNC. If the conditions are too broad or restrictive, you may be able to have the agreement thrown out by a court of law. The legal team at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, has worked with employers and employees to make sure their contractual non-compete agreements are valid and enforceable in Illinois. For legal help, contact us at 630-665-2500 to schedule your initial consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-is-a-non-compete-agreement-2062045

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/committees/business-torts-unfair-competition/practice/2018/overreaching-covenants-not-to-compete/

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/noncompete-agreement.asp