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When can companies enforce non-compete agreements?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2024 | Employment Law |

Businesses sometimes include non-compete agreements in the contracts that they negotiate with employees. A non-compete agreement is a restrictive covenant that is intended to prevent an employee from obtaining a job with a direct competitor after leaving a company or starting a competing business in the same industry.

Employees in Massachusetts may sometimes question whether the restrictive covenants included in an employment contract are actually enforceable. They may even accept a job or start planning a new entrepreneurial endeavor under the assumption that their former employer can’t intervene in their economic activity. When can a company enforce non-compete agreements?

When they are in certain competitive roles

The Massachusetts courts generally frown on the use of non-compete agreements for generic professions — particularly those that do not provide a competitive wage. Forbidding someone from working in another restaurant or in a retail establishment could be unrealistic for a company to demand.

Beyond that, Massachusetts law actually prohibits non-compete agreements in a variety of professions. Physicians and other medical specialists are among those whose employers cannot enforce non-compete agreements. Lawyers, social workers and broadcasting industry professionals are also protected under state law.

When they are part of a valid contract

For a business to enforce a non-compete agreement, it would need to take the matter to court. A judge hearing a non-compete case scrutinizes the initial contract, as well as the non-compete agreement itself. Failing to offer a worker something of valuable consideration or applying overly broad terms might prevent the enforcement of a non-compete agreement.

Learning more about the laws that govern certain contract inclusions may benefit those involved in an employment contract dispute. Having experienced legal guidance can help.