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Noncompetition contracts are not always enforceable

Throughout Melbourne, Florida, companies have noncompetition agreements in place with employees. Generally speaking, companies like the agreements, which keep employees from taking the experience, skills and knowledge gained at their company and taking it to a different one. Employees tend to dislike the agreements because they would prefer to be able to take their skills to a different employer at will if doing so would result in more money, benefits, opportunities and respect. If there is a noncompetition agreement in place and an employee breaks it, they can be sued for breach of contract.

However, in many cases, the human resources people mess up in regards to noncompetition agreements, invalidating them. One way this happens is when HR staff gets careless and doesn't bother to actually confirm whether or not a new employee has signed the noncompetition agreement that they were given. This might seem like an obvious thing to double-check, but it is a surprisingly common error by HR staff. There have been court cases in which employers tried to enforce a noncompetition agreement that was given to the employee but not signed by the employee, but the court has ruled against the employer.

In other instances, the employee signed the noncompetition agreement, but the employer neglected to. This, too, typically renders it invalid. Of course, that goes to show the tremendous cost of sloppy work by HR departments, who very well may find themselves submitting applications to HR departments of other companies after making these kinds of errors. More importantly, it gives workers who find better jobs a way out of the noncompetition agreements that their employer had intended to impose on them.

An attorney can review all the paperwork to see if the noncompetition agreement is enforceable, or if not, the basis on which it can be contested. The outcome of that will have significant effects for the workers involved, their former employer and their future employer.

Source: Human Resource Executive Online, "Five HR Errors That Can Invalidate a Non-Compete Agreement," David J. Clark, accessed Sep. 19, 2017

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