Can An Employee Get Out Of A Non-Compete Agreement In Florida?
A non-compete agreement is a contract or contract provision through which one party (usually an employee or independent contractor) agrees not to engage in direct competition against another. It is not uncommon for employers to ask workers to sign a non-compete. These agreements should always be reviewed by an experienced employment attorney.
If you have already signed an agreement, you may be wondering: Can I get out of my non-compete contract? The answer depends on the specific circumstances—you may be able to get out if your agreement is unenforceable or if you can negotiate an early release. In this article, you will find a guide to the two different ways that employees can get out of a non-compete in Florida.
Non-Compete Agreements are Enforceable in Florida—But Must Meet Strict Standards
Non-compete agreements are legally enforceable in Florida. They are deemed valid restraints on trade as long as all legal requirements are met. That being said, Florida law does look at non-compete contracts with some general skepticism. Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 542.335), a non-compete contract must meet the following two standards to be upheld:
- Protects a Legitimate Business Interest: Employers cannot require an employee to sign a non-compete agreement “just because they want one.” To be legally valid in Florida, a non-compete contract must protect a genuine and legitimate business interest.
- Reasonable in its Nature and Scope: Non-compete must be limited. They are only enforceable in Florida if reasonable in their duration, geographic coverage, and overall nature and scope. An overly restrictive non-compete may be thrown out.
If the non-compete agreement that you signed is very broad, you may be able to get out of it on the grounds that it is not legally enforceable in Florida. It is generally a best practice to have your non-compete contract reviewed by an experienced employment lawyer. An attorney can advise you on its likelihood of being upheld by a court.
You May Be Able to Negotiate an Early Exit to a Legally Valid Non-Compete Agreement
The reality is that some non-compete agreements are legally valid—and thus legally binding—in Florida. If your non-compete agreement is valid, then the only way to get out of it early is through negotiation with the other party. It may be possible to come to an agreement with your former employer regarding a modification or early release from the non-compete. Whether or not this is a viable option depends on many different factors, including the nature of your current relationship with your prior employer, your proposed line of business, and the remaining duration of your non-compete agreement. A Florida employment attorney with experience handling non-compete agreement cases can help you determine the best course of action.
Get Help From a Non-Compete Agreement Lawyer in Florida
Non-compete agreement cases are complex. Employees should be prepared to seek professional guidance and support. If you have any specific questions or concerns about a non-compete agreement, contact an experienced Florida employment law attorney for immediate assistance.