Non Compete Loopholes | How to Void a Non-Compete Contract? (2022)

Voiding a non-compete contract is possible in certain circumstances such as proving you never signed it or the contract is against the public interest.7 min read

1. What are Non-Compete Agreements?
2. How long are non compete valid for?
3. Employer’s business interests
4. Can non-competes be enforced?
5. Can I Work for a Competitor if I signed a Non-Compete?
6. Do Non-Compete Hold Up in Court?
7. Defeating a Non-Compete Contract: Loopholes
8. What Voids a Non-Compete Agreement?
9. Negotiating a Non-Compete Agreement
10. What happens if you break Non-Compete Agreement?
11. What state does not allow non-compete agreements?

Updated May5, 2022:

(Video) All about non compete agreements I Why they are not enforceable

It is possible to find non-compete loopholes in certain circumstances in order to void a non-compete contract. For instance, if you can prove that you never signed the contract, or if you can demonstrate that the contract is against the public interest, you may be able to void the agreement. We highly recommend you to hire a contract review attorney to help, but first, read this article to learn more about the topic.

What are Non-Compete Agreements?

  • Non compete clauses are also called a provision or restrictive covenant. The purpose of non-competes is for employment context.
  • A non-compete contract is a legal agreement that prevents an employee from working for other competing firms after leaving the business. In some industries, it's common for employers to request that their employees sign a non-compete contract. While it's true that an employer cannot force you to sign one of these agreements, he or she may be able to fire you for not signing or may decide not to hire you if you are a new employee.
  • Non-compete agreements do differ from state to state as some state courts can disregard the agreements altogether. Some states, on the other hand, would see this as a threat to the company's business interests.

How long are non compete valid for?

In many businesses, a six month non-compete will be judged acceptable and therefore enforceable. The rule of thumb is that the agreement should not last longer than is reasonably required to protect the employer's legitimate business interests.

Employer’s business interests

An employer can use non-compete agreements to protect them from former employees disclosing confidential information about the company, customer relationships, and other operations. You must sign the non-compete as part of the employment agreement. Their goal is to lessen the competition in the industry.

(Video) Are Non-Competes Enforceable? | A Corporate Lawyer Explains

Can non-competes be enforced?

In most cases, courts will not uphold non-compete agreements because many are not legally enforceable. For an organization a non-compete can be a significant source of value. In a dispute involving a non-compete contract, the court will usually try to determine if the terms of the contract are reasonable.For a non-compete agreement to be legally enforceable, it must meet several qualifications:

  1. The agreement must protect a legitimate business interest.
  2. The scope and length of the agreement should be reasonable.
  3. The agreement must be in line with the public interest.

If the agreement has no consideration, then it is seen as unenforceable.

Can I Work for a Competitor if I signed a Non-Compete?

If your employer presents you with a non-compete agreement and you decide to sign the contract, you are promising not to compete against your employer once your employment ends. In addition to preventing you from signing an employment contract with a competitor of your former employer,non-compete clauses can prevent you from:

(Video) Were You Asked to Sign a Non-compete Agreement? Watch this first!

  • Working as an independent contractor with a competitor.
  • Becoming the owner or part-owner of a competitor.
  • Investing in a competitor.

Do Non-Compete Hold Up in Court?

  • Non compete clauses are treated differently by courts in different states. Some states are keen to enforce covenant and will aggressively revise ones that are overly broad in scope or time to make them more enforceable.
  • You could also attempt to prove that the terms of the contract are too broad. For example, if the non-compete clause lasts an unreasonable amount of time or restricts you from working in an overly large geographic area, the contract might not be enforceable. If your employer only operates in a single state, for instance, it would be unreasonable to restrict you from working for a competitor that does not operate within that state. It would also be unreasonable for a non-compete agreement to prohibit you from working for a competitor years after the trade secrets your employer seeks to protect are no longer valid.

How to Get Out of a Non-Compete Agreement: Loopholes

  1. In some cases, it may be possible for you to defeat a non-compete contract. For instance, if you are able to prove that accepting your new job doesn't actually violate the terms of the agreement, you should be able to accept your new position and your former employer won't be able to stop you. Make sure to carefully read the terms of your non-compete contract so that you understand its limits. The terms of the agreement may be more flexible than you think.
  2. Another way to defeat a non-compete contract is to show that your employer has behaved illegally or unethically towards their clients. In general, an employer will not want these matters raised in a court case, so they may void your non-compete agreement if you have proof of these behaviors.
  3. Showing that the agreement is not related to a legitimate business interest is the most effective way of getting out of a non-compete contract. The goal of any non-compete agreement is to protect trade secrets. If you can show that your former role did not require you to access trade secrets, you should be able to accept employment with any company that you wish.
  4. Proving that there was a breach of your employment contract is yet another way that you can defeat a non-compete agreement. If your employer did not fulfill the employment contract terms, then they likely can't force you to stick to a non-compete agreement. For example, if your employment contract required that you receive a lump sum payment upon termination and your employer refused to pay this sum, you should be able to void the non-compete clause.

What Voids a Non-Compete Agreement?

Voiding a non-compete contract may also be possible if your employer promised you something in exchange for signing the agreement and did not intend to fulfill this promise. An example of this would be an employer stating he or she would only enforce the contract if you tried to work for a single competitor and then later preventing you from working for another competitor.

Negotiating a Non-Compete Agreement

Employeesnegotiating a non-compete contractwith their employer should only agree to terms that are actually necessary to protect the employer's interests.The employee if you're on good terms with the employer, discusses the non-compete agreement and come to a confidentiality agreement. Upconsel can help give advice to your employee rights. It is important to get an attorney to analyze your contracts to answer questions you may have. Non-compete agreements should be reviewed by legal counsel to ensure the employee is safe.

What happens if you break Non-Compete Agreement?

Breaking non-compete agreements will cause you to be fired resulting in losing your job. Under the terms of your contract, if you had signed it, you have given the facts that you will not work for another company. The agreement is still valid even when you leave the company, however, an UpCounsel'semployment attorneymay help you to try to find loopholes to void a non-compete agreement.​

(Video) When is a Non-Compete Agreement Enforceable? | Learn About Law

Injunctive Relief

  • The most frequently requested and granted relief for violating a non-compete agreement is an injunction.
  • As a result, the previous employer typically does not attempt to determine whether there are damages.
  • Alternatively, a previous employer often requests that a judge upholds a non-compete agreement and forces the worker to leave their new employer.

Monetary Damages

  • Former bosses sometimes look for damages –- typically against their former worker.
  • Compensation is a common form of damages or compensation for loss of profits as a result of the violation.
  • Cambridge Engineering, Inc. v. Mercury Partners 89 BL, Inc is a case where monetary damages were awarded.
  • For monetary damages to be granted, there must be evidence of a veritable loss. This loss can vary from small amounts to significant amounts, according to the evidence of damages presented by the employer to the judge.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damagesis another common kind of damages and are awarded for vindictive behavior. Punitive damages necessitate clear proof of this intentioned, vindictive conduct. Malicious behavior is necessary in order to substantiate a claim, so if such a claim is satisfied, punitive damages will be made available.

Liquidated Damages

  • Another relief option for the breach of anon-compete clauseisliquidated damages.
  • These are stated in a contract as the sum, or a formula for producing an exact sum, that one party to a contract will pay for violating that contract.
  • In the case of liquidated damages, an employer can list a sum that their worker must pay if they violate thenon-compete contractwith their boss.
  • As liquidated damages are a component of the contract, a new employer will not be required to pay liquidated damages, unless the employee signed an agreement with their previous employer.
  • A judge will need to decide whether aliquidated damages clauseis appropriate before asking a party to pay the damages. The sum of money depends on the situation.

Court Costs andAttorney Fees

Ultimately, the unsuccessful party could be held accountable for court fees and the cost of hiring an attorney. This will be contingent on whether the victorious party requests these damages and whether the court thinks that the successful party's conduct justifies them paying for these fees.

What State Does Not Allow Non-Compete Agreements?

While most states recognize non-compete agreements, specifically California, North Dakota, Montana, and Oklahoma prohibit employee non-compete agreements in all circumstances.

(Video) VIVINT Employee Drops Bombshell - actually told me the truth

If you need help voiding a non-compete contract, you can post your legal needs on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.


How do you get around signing a non-compete? ›

Here are five ways to beat a non-compete agreement.
  1. Prove your employer is in breach of contract. ...
  2. Prove there is no legitimate interest to enforce the non-compete agreement. ...
  3. Prove the agreement is not for a reasonable amount of time. ...
  4. Prove that the confidential information you had access to isn't special.

Can my previous employer stop me working for a competitor? ›

No matter what's in your contract, your old employer can't stop you taking a new job unless it could lose them money. For example if you might: take customers to your new employer when you leave. start a competing business in the same local area.

Is a 12 month restrictive covenant enforceable? ›

Is a 12-month restrictive covenant enforceable? Each case turns on its own facts, but a court is generally reluctant to enforce restrictive covenants longer than 12 months. Market practice dictates a period of between 3 and 6 months is appropriate for more junior employees.

How do I get around a non solicitation agreement? ›

Escaping Nonsolicitation Agreements
  1. Don't sign. ...
  2. Build your book independently. ...
  3. Carve out pre-existing relationships. ...
  4. Require “for cause” termination as the trigger. ...
  5. Provide for a payoff. ...
  6. Turn clients into friends. ...
  7. Don't treat clients as trade secrets. ...
  8. Invest in your own business.

What makes a non-compete null and void? ›

It is possible to find non-compete loopholes in certain circumstances in order to void a non-compete contract. For instance, if you can prove that you never signed the contract, or if you can demonstrate that the contract is against the public interest, you may be able to void the agreement.

How do you nullify a non-compete agreement? ›

You Can Void a Non-Compete by Proving Its Terms Go Too Far or Last Too Long. Whether a non-compete is unenforceable because it covers too large of a geographical area or it lasts too long can depend on many factors. Enforceability can depend on your industry, skills, location, etc.

Can I work for a competitor if I signed a non solicitation? ›

A non-solicitation agreement can't restrict an employee from leaving voluntarily even if the employee, customer, or client who has signed the agreement moves to a competitor.

How enforceable are non-compete clauses? ›

California - Non-compete clauses are not enforceable under California law. However, LegalNature's non-compete agreement may still be used to prohibit the employee from soliciting customers and other employees away from the employer.

Can a company sue you for joining a competitor? ›

If you know how the “secret sauce” is made and you take the recipe to a competitor — even if the recipe is just in your head, rather than on a piece paper — Big Company A will can sue both you and your new employer, and will probably win.

How do you get around restrictive covenants? ›

How do I challenge a restrictive covenant?
  1. Express release: It may be possible to negotiate the release or variation of a restrictive covenant.
  2. Indemnity insurance: It is possible to obtain indemnity insurance to protect against the risk of a person with the benefit of a restrictive covenant seeking to enforce it.

What are some examples of restrictive covenants? ›

Examples Of Restrictive Covenants
  • Limitations On Home Color.
  • Rent And Lease Restrictions.
  • Restrictions On Business Usage.
  • Limitations On Permissible Pets.
  • Requirements For Exterior Maintenance.
  • Restrictions On Exterior Constructions.
22 Aug 2022

How do I know if a restrictive covenant is enforceable? ›

To be enforceable a restrictive covenant must firstly “touch and concern” or somehow benefit other land, and the benefit must also have been intended to run with that benefitting land. The covenant cannot merely be a covenant of personal benefit to the original contracting party.

What happens if you break non-solicitation? ›

If you break a non-solicitation agreement, your former employer could issue a cease-and-desist order to try to stop you from violating the clause. They could also sue you and attempt to keep you from working at your new company, according to Carter.

What is indirect solicitation? ›

Indirect” solicitation, however, may. consist of a former employee's advertising packages to a former employer's customers; targeted. announcements of new employment to a former employer's customers; proactively encouraging a. former employer's customers to leave, even if the customer may have initiated contact with ...

What is a circumvention clause? ›

It prevents one or more parties in a business deal from being bypassed and deprived of full compensation for their efforts or involvement. In addition, such an agreement ensures that the intellectual property that a business discloses to another party during negotiations will not be disclosed to a third party.

Does getting fired nullify a non-compete? ›

Does my non-compete clause still hold if I leave my job involuntarily? In most cases, the non-compete clause still holds even if you are fired or laid off. However, you may be able to request that your former employer waive the clause. In such circumstances, employers are sometimes more open to waiving the clause.

How do you ask for a release from a non-compete? ›

If You Feel Comfortable, Ask For A Release

– stress your desire to leave the company on good terms. Your employer will appreciate your openness and willingness to come to a mutual understanding, and they may release you from the agreement. This release should be in writing and signed by both you and your employer.

Should I tell my new employer about my non-compete? ›

3. Be honest with prospective employers. If you do land an interview for a new job, it's important to discuss your non-compete agreement with your prospective employer. Keeping it a secret could force the employer to fire you later on to comply with the contract.

In what states are non-competes enforceable? ›

Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington state have all enacted noncompete restrictions since 2016.

How often are non-competes enforced? ›

Non-compete agreements must be signed by all parties and limit restriction to a reasonable period, often two years. However, the broad nature of the restrictions in this type of contract is often unenforceable.

Should I worry about a non-compete? ›

Hiring someone with a non-compete can be risky for the new firm as well if you're hiring from a competitor. The previous employer can sue their former employee and the new employer. Even if they lose, if can cost the employee and new firm a lot of money in legal fees, and may prevent the person from working for a time.

Can companies agree not to hire each other employees? ›

As noted in the "Antitrust Guidance for Human Resource Professionals," that was issued in October 2016 by the Department of Justice Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission, companies are prohibited from entering into agreements about employee hiring, compensation, or other terms or conditions of employment.

How long is a non-solicitation agreement good for? ›

A non-solicitation clause lasts according to the length of the contract. However, they may extend long after the relationship ends. Most non-solicitation clauses last for up to one year.

What is the difference between a non-compete and a non-solicitation? ›

Non-Compete Agreement (NCA): A contract where an employee agrees to not compete with a company for a certain period of time after employment. Non-Solicitation Agreement (NSA): A contract where an employee agrees not to solicit the company's clients, employees, or other individuals with whom the employee worked.

Are non-competes hard to enforce? ›

Surprisingly, it doesn't take much to make a non-compete agreement unenforceable. That is because legislators in every state have recognized important public policy reasons for restricting the power of these agreements.

How legit are non-compete agreements? ›

Because of uncertainty surrounding enforcement, non-compete agreements don't provide employers any real protections. Fiction. Non-compete agreements provide employers protection both through enforcement and through their prophylactic effects. In many cases, non-compete agreements are enforceable.

Are non-compete clauses real? ›

A non-compete agreement legally binds a current or former employee from competing with an employer for a specific time after employment ceases. Under such an agreement, the employee must not reveal any trade secrets learned during employment.

What is employee poaching? ›

The term “Employee Poaching” (also known as Job Poaching, Talent Poaching, or Employee Raiding) is used to describe practices that involve companies hiring current or former employees from a competitor or similar company.

How do you tell your employer you are leaving for a competitor? ›

Type a thoughtful letter on your own time and be sure to include your name, the current date and the date that will be your last day of employment. A note of thanks and well wishes for the future make for a nice addition. Print the letter and give it to your supervisor personally.

Can you work for two competing companies at the same time? ›

As a general rule, unless you've signed a valid employment contract that prohibits you from taking a second job, there's no law against working for more than one company. That doesn't mean, though, that your employer can't terminate you for moonlighting or participating in a side hustle.

Who enforces restrictive covenants? ›

Who enforces breach of covenant? The owner of the land that benefits from the restrictive covenant is the one who can enforce a breach in restrictive covenant, as they potentially stand to lose out as a result of the breach. If they choose to, they are the party that can take legal action against you.

How much does it cost to have a covenant removed? ›

The cost of lifting restrictive covenants involves a statutory fee of £880 upon application. If your application progresses to a hearing, there's a fee of £1,100. If a decision is reached without a hearing, the fee is £275. If you need more time to carry out the Tribunal's directions, you'll have to pay a fee of £110.

Can old restrictive covenants be enforced? ›

Restrictive covenants do not only apply to new build homes. Restrictive covenants can be placed on older properties too. The age of the covenant doesn't necessarily affect its validity. However in some cases, very old covenants are considered unenforceable.

What are the 5 covenants? ›

There are several covenants in the Bible, but five covenants are crucial for understanding the story of the Bible and God's redemptive plan: the Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, The Mosaic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant and the New Covenant.

Which restrictive covenant would be considered illegal? ›

Which restrictive covenant would be considered illegal? A covenant that restricts selected parcels within a defined subdivision.

How long are restrictive covenants enforceable? ›

Typically, courts tend to enforce restrictions of between 6 and 12 months, depending upon the seniority of the employee concerned and their access to confidential information and clients. This is subject, of course, to the covenants being reasonable and necessary to protect a legitimate business interest.

Are covenants enforceable after 20 years? ›

Generally speaking, it is hard to enforce a restrictive covenant after 20 years. The Limitation Act 1980 also states that claims in land should be brought within 12 years, within 12 years from the time the breach occurred, not when the deed came into force.

How legally binding are covenants? ›

Covenants are legally binding and enforceable by the court. What might a covenant restrict? A covenant can restrict the appearance of a development, for example its height, size or quantity, or it can restrict the activity that takes place on a plot, such as allowing only agricultural or residential use.

How common are restrictive covenants? ›

As a result, on average, there is a covenant per every 1086 properties. However, Greater London was the strictest region, with nearly 42,000 restrictive covenants on properties used by its nine million inhabitants. This works to be a restrictive covenant per every 90 properties.

Are anti poaching agreements legal? ›

No-poach agreements can be subject to criminal or civil violations. Criminal violations may be brought by the DOJ and could include fines, consent decrees, and other penalties.

Are you subject to a non-competition agreement meaning? ›

A non-compete agreement (NCA) is a legally binding restrictive covenant designed to prevent the signee from exploiting competitive advantages gained through association with the other party in the agreement.

Is non-solicitation clause valid? ›

A non-solicitation clause in an employment contract is binding on the employee during and post-employment. A reasonable post-employment period should be set, to make the non-solicitation clause enforceable post-employment.

What is considered solicitation of employee? ›

Employee solicitation means the sale or offer for sale of any property or service, whether for immediate or future delivery, and the receipt of or request for any gift or contribution by an employee or employee organization. The term does not include activities en- gaged in to conduct College District business.

Can you take clients when you leave a job? ›

Even if an employee lacks a non-solicitation agreement, it is wise to remind departing employees not to begin soliciting clients until after their departure. Soliciting clients or advising them of the employee's plans prior to resigning can lead to problems.

What is considered non-solicitation? ›

A non-solicitation agreement is a contract between an employer and an employee that regulates an employee's right to pursue clients after leaving their current job. Typically, the employee agrees not to approach the company's clients for a predetermined amount of time after leaving the company.

What is a standstill clause in NDA? ›

Standstill provisions limit the buyer's acquisition of securities or other rights in the seller, involvement in the solicitation of proxies with respect to the voting of securities of the seller, and other similar activities with respect to the seller's securities.

What does Noncontravention mean? ›

Contravention: An action that violates a law, treaty, or other ruling. Non Contravention: Clause is to ensure that this particular agreement does not violate or conflict with any laws or previous agreements.

What is a non contravention opinion? ›

Noncontravention Opinion: A group of opinions addressing whether the execution, delivery and performance of documents covered by an opinion violate laws or breach organizational documents of a client, agreements to which a client is a party or court orders binding on a client.

Do you have to tell your employer you are going to a competitor? ›

When you're resigning from your current workplace, write out a formal resignation letter to your supervisor to inform them properly but don't include where you're going. You don't necessarily have to tell them you're leaving for a competitor, but do know that it won't stay a secret.

Is it wrong to work for a competitor? ›

Yes, it is safe to apply to a job with the competitor online,” says Salemi, who reinforces the importance of applying on your own computer and on your own time. You might well find yourself getting a quicker response than you have from any previous job application, she adds.

Can employee join competitor company? ›

You are legally free to join any company as per your wish. Section 27 of the Indian Contract Act-1872 provides that ”Every agreement by which anyone is restrained from exercising a lawful profession or trade or business of any kind, is to that extent void”.

What is considered conflict of interest at work? ›

Conflict of interest in the workplace refers to when a staff member takes part in an activity or relationship that benefits them and not their employer. In other words, each party's personal gains are at odds with each other.

Do I have to say where I am going when I resign? ›

The short answer: no. “You aren't legally obligated to tell your employer where you're going next,” said Cole. “But, you should consider your relationship with your manager when deciding whether or not to share that information.”

Can you be fired for interviewing for another job? ›

Can my employer fire me for looking for a new job?” Typically, yes. Your California employer can legally terminate your employment because you are actively searching for a new job.

Do I have to disclose my new employer when resigning non compete? ›

In the overwhelming majority of cases, you aren't legally obligated to disclose where you're leaving unless you're going to work for a competitor, and you have signed a non-compete clause. That being said, it's critical that you give your current employer the exit date.

What happens if you give two weeks notice and they ask you to leave? ›

Hit the Road Now. Many employers, however, will ask you to leave immediately when you give them two weeks' notice, and this is perfectly legal as well. The upside is this may make the employee eligible for unemployment when they wouldn't have been otherwise.

Does an employer have to honor a 2 week notice? ›

But is it legally required? It's common for American workers to provide their employers with two weeks' notice before quitting a job, so many people believe that doing so is legally required. It's not. No state or federal law requires you to notify your boss two weeks before leaving your job.

Can you quit before your two weeks notice? ›

Do I have to give 2 weeks' notice before quitting a job in California? In California, there is generally no requirement that an employee or an employer give two weeks notice, or any notice, before quitting or terminating a job. This is because California is an “at-will“ employment state.

How often are non competes enforced? ›

Non-compete agreements must be signed by all parties and limit restriction to a reasonable period, often two years. However, the broad nature of the restrictions in this type of contract is often unenforceable.

Is it ethical to join competitors? ›

you can join the company's competitor as long as you are not used for providing any information or projects ongoing or its about your previous company. It is ethical if you are working without sharing any information about either of the companies to each other.

Why use a non-compete clause? ›

The most noticeable benefit of having a non-compete agreement is that it can secure or prevent your employees from leaving to work with a contender or competitor. If an employee resigns his/her job and starts his/her own competitive business, a non-compete agreement will be very helpful.

What are the 4 types of conflict of interest? ›

Part 3: Different types of conflicts of interest
  • financial conflict;
  • non-financial conflict;
  • conflict of roles; or.
  • predetermination.

What are the 5 fair reasons for dismissal? ›

In most cases, certain processes or criteria must be followed by the employer to ensure that the dismissal is fair, otherwise it could be challenged at a tribunal.
A run-down of the most common reasons to dismiss an employee.
  • Failure to do the job. ...
  • Misconduct. ...
  • Long term sick. ...
  • Redundancy.


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3. The Legal Zone (Season 1, Episode 5): Non-Compete Agreements Under Biden Administration
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4. Are Non Compete Clauses Enforceable in Employment Contracts?
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5. How employers competing for workers turn to $100K signing bonuses
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