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You just may not be bound by your Florida non-compete agreement

On July 1, a new Florida statute went into effect that aims to change how physicians' non-compete agreements have historically been enforced. Florida Statutes Chapter 542 has now been updated to disallow health care organizations from suing doctors practicing in certain fields or rural areas for violating their non-compete agreements.

Up until the signing of the law, doctors in certain specialized fields of medicine in these areas were restricted from leaving one employer in the county to go work for another one. The organization that hired them could lawfully sue them for breach of contract for doing this.

Now that this new statute has been passed, restrictive clauses or covenants in these contracts have become unenforceable or void. Physicians now may leave their one job to go and work for a competitor in the same market provided that they've only been in operation there for three years or less.

Long before this piece of legislation was signed into law, its proponents lobbied lawmakers to pass it. They noted that it would make critical medical care both more affordable and accessible to often underserved populations. This was a great motivator for Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign the legislation into law.

Physicians applauded the passage of this legislation. Up until it became law, many doctors had been forced to move outside of the geographic areas where they worked just so they could continue practicing medicine.

Many of the physicians who did this were bound by contracts that restricted them from taking a job with any employer in their field for as many as two years from the time of their termination. These rules applied whether a doctor voluntarily resigned their role or if their employer denied the renewal of their contract.

Some legal analysts argue that the elimination of the non-compete covenants in certain geographic areas is likely to result in the reduction of competitive salaries for doctors in these regions.

Of the best things that you can do if you're considering taking on or leaving a physician role here in Melbourne or elsewhere in Florida is to consult with a breach of contract attorney. They can advise you of your rights and responsibilities and how to best resolve disputes over non-compete agreements should they arise.

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