Non-competition agreements are designed to prevent unfair competition in the marketplace. While some states have statutory provisions affecting non-compete agreements – in California, for example, Civil Code § 16600 invalidates non-compete agreements as a matter of law—in Virginia the enforceability of non-competition agreements is governed by common law principles.
As a corollary to Virginia’s traditionally strong adherence to the doctrine of employment at-will, non-competition agreements have historically been disfavored in Virginia and will be enforced only when narrowly drawn to protect an employer’s legitimate business interests. This tradition makes drafting a non-compete agreement a rather difficult task, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The duration, scope, and other essential terms will vary greatly depending on the specifics of a given situation.
Enforcement of a non-compete provision also depends largely upon the circumstances of the specific case. For example, many employees are required to sign agreements (either at the very outset of their employment or at some point in their employment) that restrict the employee’s right to compete against the employer in the future. Enforcement of a non-compete signed at the outset of employment can be more problematic than a enforcement of a non-compete signed at the conclusion of employment, particularly where the employee has been paid a sum in exchange for his or her promise not to compete.
While there is a great deal of uncertainty in Virginia about non-competition agreements, this much is crystal clear—non-compete litigation is not for the faint of heart, and the stakes are often extra0rdinarily high. The lawyers of K&G Law Group have experience litigating non-compete issues on behalf of both employers and employees.
If you would like to arrange a consult with one of our lawyers about your non-compete agreement, please click here or call us at 703-649-5500.
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