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What should I be wary of when signing an noncompete agreement?

No matter what field you work in, whether it's technology, medicine or business, new hires are likely to be asked to sign either a noncompete or nondisclosure agreement (NCA or NDA), or both. It's become increasingly popular for employees to be asked to sign them before being hired to work for an employer.

It's important that you carefully read the agreement you've been presented before signing it. The most important factor you'll want to pay attention to when reading one of these agreements over is whether it seems to include reasonable demands.

You will want to pay close attention to the time frame that it's intended to remain in effect if you were to leave your job. You'll also want to look to see whether it prevents you from taking a similar role in a certain region or particular radius of your current job if you were to look for one.

Most NCAs are intended to protect one employer from essentially having their employee leave and immediately start working for a direct competitor. NDAs are intended to keep intellectual property such as trade secrets, proprietary training and other strategic resources from being shared with others that may use them to their competitive advantage.

When NDAs or NCAs are contested, it's often done on the grounds that they are unfairly written. In cases in which they're thrown out by a judge, it's often because they cover an unreasonably large geographic area. If it prohibits an employee from working in their field for a period greater than five years, then a judge may deem it to be unreasonably written as well.

Salespeople often are asked to sign NCAs to prevent them from taking their prospects or clients with them when they leave and continuing to work with them at their new jobs.

Employees who violate nondisclosure or noncompete clauses may be sued for monetary damages for doing so. If a former employer is taking action against you for allegedly breaching an NDA or NCA, a Melbourne breach of contract attorney can advise you about whether or not it was unfairly written. In such a case, you may be eligible to file a countersuit to avoid paying damages.

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