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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 29312
Experience:  Former judicial law clerk, lawyer
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How do I legally work competitor if I signed a

Customer Question

How do I legally work for a competitor if I signed a non-compete contract?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today.
How long does the non-compete prevent you from working? Does it specific a geographic range where you can't work? Does it prevent you from working for competitors in ANY capacity, or only doing specific jobs?
What type of work do you do?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Service business For restaurants. Non compete says cannot do any work similar or same as company that I signed the non compete to when I sold my business a year ago to them.
for 5 years nationwide..
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you.
For a non-compete agreement to be enforceable, it must be reasonable. The law presumes that a time period of 3-7 years is reasonable when it enjoins the seller of a business rather than an employee. Fl. Stat., Section 542.335.
If the business did not operate nationwide, then you can argue that a nationwide restriction is not reasonable. Typically, a person should only be restrained from competing in the same geographic area as the business. A judge could actually modify the agreement so that you were only restricted from working around the area where the service business operated.
There are essentially three options here:
1. Ask your new employer to buy out the non-compete, which does happen sometimes but wouldn't work if you're planning to start a second business.
2. Pay the buyer for the right to terminate the non-compete clause early (but they have the negotiating power, you could wind up paying quite a bit). But you could also ask if they would agree to modify the areas where you're not allowed to work in order to avoid a lawsuit.
3. File a lawsuit against the company asking a judge to find that the non-compete is overly broad and unenforceable. That won't work if your company operated throughout the entire country. The problem is, since you were selling a business and not an employee, you're considered to have been in equal bargaining positions - you got paid extra for agreeing not to compete. So that complicates things, and means it would probably be best to have a lawyer help you if you think you might want to go to court.