Employers who have trained their employees by providing them with commercially sensitive business information have a legitimate need to protect their own interests in the event the employee leaves. As a result, non-compete agreements can be a valuable tool for employers. A reasonable non-compete agreement protects the employer’s interests without unduly restricting the former employee’s ability to work elsewhere.
Under Florida Statute section 542.335, non-compete agreements can be enforced so long as (1) they are reasonable in terms of time, area, and line of business; (2) the restrictive covenant is set forth in a writing which is signed by the person against whom enforcement is sought; and, (3) the party seeking to enforce the covenant shows that the covenant is necessary to protect legitimate business interests, such as:
- Trade secrets, as defined in Florida Statute sec. 688.002(4);
- Valuable confidential business or professional information which does not qualify as trade secret;
- Substantial relationships with specific prospective or existing customers, patients, or clients;
- Customer, patient, or client goodwill associated with (i) a specific geographic location; (ii) an on-going business or professional practice, by way of trade name, trademark, service mark, or trade dress; or (iii) a specific marketing or trade area;
- Extraordinary or specialized training provided to the employee.
Florida Statute section 542.335 contains many specific details regarding the enforceability of restrictive covenants.