As you weigh job offers requiring new non-compete agreements, it pays to read the fine print. While aspects vary based on your state laws, these restrictive employment contracts contain common catches that can severely limit your career latitude down the road in unexpected ways if you are not careful upfront. Here are three non-compete “gotchas” people often breeze past when signing, only to regret later:
- Assignability Clause This says your non-compete obligations can be assigned or transferred to any new owner if your company merges or gets acquired. That means restrictions you agreed to tied only to your current employer could end up encumbering you under a larger corporate entity with vastly expanded resources to enforce the contract.
- Non-Solicitation Extension Standard non-competes banning you from rivals may have attached non-solicitation provisions that also bar you from contacting valued colleagues or clients to join your new firm for an even longer duration afterward. This blocks you from reassembling your most trusted team right away.
- Runaway Geographic Scope Vague non-compete language around barred regions can jeopardize far more ground than intended. Imprecise wording around market territories or omitting defined mileage radiuses could imply national or even global restrictions a court may hesitate to narrow later.
Getting non-competes tailored or reviewing them against specific state law limits requires due diligence before signing. But legal counsel on negotiations and court options offers protection if you still encounter overreach later on.
If faced with unclear non-compete terms, unintended pitfalls, or rigid enforcement threats that jeopardize your livelihood, immediately consult an attorney specializing in employment law. They can properly assess if boilerplate provisions in your contract fail to account for protections in your location's precedents and statutes. Experienced lawyers also provide indispensable guidance around arguing necessity and reasonableness standards before a court when advocating for your specific career freedom. Never assume you alone fully grasp dense contractual language's complete implications without an expert sounding board. Employment attorneys help ensure you avoid non-compete traps through careful negotiation before signing or artful maneuvers after the fact, should overly broad terms attempt to restrain your economic mobility.