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Are Jimmy John's noncompete agreements enforceable in Florida?

Most people in Florida don't think too much about the law beyond what they have to in their day to day lives. It isn't until they encounter a violation of it that they realize just how complex our legal system is. It's only at this time that most people realize the value of obtaining a skilled lawyer, especially because their experience with the law may mean the difference between returning to your normal life and facing serious legal consequences down the road.

One area of the law that a lot of our Melbourne readers may rarely consider is contract law. While most people know that not all contracts are the same, there is one aspect that all contracts share and that is the fact that all parties involved in the agreement must uphold their end of the agreement.

The reason we bring this up today is because of a case that has been circulating the news for months now. Some of our Melbourne readers may have heard about it. We’re talking about the case against Jimmy John's. As you may know, the company is being accused in some states of unfairly forcing their employees to sign noncompete agreements, which bar them for a period of time from working for competing sandwich shops. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim these agreements are detrimental to employees because they force them into low paying jobs where they have no leverage.

After considering this case, our readers might ask: are Jimmy John's noncompete agreements enforceable in Florida? And the answer is yes.

That's because, unlike some states that have banned the use of noncompete clauses -- which are also referred to as restrictive covenants -- Florida allows the use of noncompete clauses so long as they are "reasonable in time, area, and line of business." In cases of contract dispute, a business must justify the use of such an agreement by showing that it has a "legitimate business interest" such as protecting trade secrets or specialized training practices.

Proving the reasonableness of use can be a tricky process; and depending on the evidence presented, the burden of proof could easily pass onto an employee. With the help of a lawyer though, they have a better chance of arguing their case. In the end, they may be granted relief through a modification of an agreement or the voiding of an agreement altogether.

Source: leg.state.fl.us, "Title XXXIII, Chapter 542," Accessed Jan. 23, 2015

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