Many companies in the St. Louis area deal with sensitive and proprietary information, and employees may acquire significant expertise in a certain business area or compile client lists that form a substantial portion of their employer’s income. Because of the sensitive nature of such information, many companies require their workers to sign non-compete agreements.
The legality of these agreements has been the source of significant controversy. Over the past decade, court rulings have limited the scope of non-compete agreements. In addition, the State Legislature is considering outlawing the creation of these agreements for certain workers.
If you are currently engaged in a dispute concerning the legality of a non-compete agreement or want legal representation during negotiations, a local employment contracts attorney can help. A St. Louis non-compete agreements lawyer can explain the current state of the law and protect your interests both in and out of court.
A non-compete agreement is usually executed between two parties when a business relationship is terminated. Often, this is employer/employee. However, it may also be between other parties, such as a company and a third-party sales representative. In any event, the goal of a non-compete agreement is to prevent a party from entering the market and taking clients along with them.
Recent court rulings, such as Whelan Sec. Co. v. Kennebrew, 379 S.W.3d 825 (Mo. 2012), established the reasonableness standard for non-compete agreements. In other words, employers must demonstrate a need to protect their company’s information and share in the marketplace against the right of an employee to seek employment with a new company.
However, legislators in the state have taken steps to change the laws as they apply to non-compete agreements. HCS HB 1202 seeks to alter the current legal landscape, making a non-compete agreement illegal if a worker earns less than $75,000.
This greatly limits the percentage of the workforce that will be subject to these agreements. A St. Louis attorney could offer more insight on the current law as it applies to non-compete agreements and work with businesses to ensure their contracts comply with all additions made thereto.
Facing the prospect of a non-compete agreement as an employee can put someone in a difficult situation. Of course, people need to work to support their families, but they may not feel comfortable with the documents that a prospective employer is asking them to sign. Fortunately, as with any other contract, it is always possible to negotiate more favorable terms. A St. Louis lawyer could represent the interests of workers to push for less restrictive non-compete clauses.
They could also evaluate the language of a proposed document to determine if it complies with current state law. Non-compete agreements need to be tailored to specific situations. For example, executing an agreement that is overly broad may create many problems, potentially voiding the contract entirely.
A lawyer can also help employees who are being accused of breaching a non-compete agreement. When employers allege these violations, it is important to make cogent legal arguments concerning both the legality of the agreement and one’s own activities. Hiring an attorney could help people to make these arguments during settlement talks or in court.
Non-compete agreements are restrictive on the rights of workers after they leave a company. While the law recognizes that businesses have a legitimate right to enforce these contracts, it also states that a company must be reasonable when asking a worker to sign these documents.
If you are uncomfortable with signing a non-compete agreement or are facing current legal action regarding the enforcement of these documents, reach out to a member of our team today. A St. Louis non-compete agreements lawyer can negotiate these contracts on your behalf for more favorable terms that comply with current state law. They could also fight to protect your rights if you are facing allegations involving an apparent breach.
We are experienced in all forms of employment law contracts. Our lawyers can review existing documents or draft them to your specific requests. Contact us today for counsel on non-compete agreements.