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John, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Licensed and practicing attorney.
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are non compete clauses enforceable in Illinois? I took a

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are non compete clauses enforceable in Illinois? I took a new position on 6/21/2013 at a company where I'm not happy. I have only spoken to one customer for about 5 seconds so I don't have any customer relationships I would be taking, etc.

Hi, My name is XXXXX XXXXX I’m happy to assist you with your question today.

A non-compete agreement will only be enforced in Illinois against a former employee if the agreement meets all three prongs of the test laid out by the courts. For a non-compete clause to be enforceable, an employer must show reasonableness, in that (1) it has a legitimate business interest sufficient to justify enforcement of the non-compete clause; (2) that the clause does not cause the former employee undue hardship; and (3) that enforcement of the clause will not be harmful to the public.

Under this three part test, courts consider several factors when determining whether a non-compete agreement is reasonable, including: (i) how long the restriction lasts and the geographic area that the restriction covers, (ii) whether the employee was the sole contact with customers, (iii) whether the employee possesses confidential information or trade secrets, (iv) whether the covenant operates to bar the employee's sole means of support, (v) whether the covenant seeks to stifle the inherent skill and experience of the employee, (vi) the likelihood that the employee can find other employment if the restriction is enforced and (vii) whether the benefit to the employer is disproportional to the detriment of the employee.

The underscored elements above do appear to support the agreement not being enforceable against you. You haven't been there long, likely do no know any trade secrets and do not have key customer relationships. Likewise, I presume you could argue that enforcement of the agreement would essentially bar you from earning a living for the length of the non-compete. So, I suspect you'd have a great chance of defeating any enforcement action by the employer.

However, unless you are willing to take the matter to court to have the contract ruled invalid, you'll not truly know if the employer can enforce its agreement. In short, only a court can definitively tell you whether the non-compete is enforceable, but these are the factors that would be considered by a court, and you'd have I believe a good chance to have the non-compete ruled unenforceable.

I believe this answers your question. However, if you need clarification or have follow-up questions regarding this matter, I will be happy to continue our conversation – simply reply to this answer. If you are otherwise satisfied with my response, please leave a positive rating as it is the only way I am able to get credit for my answers. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX wish you all the best with this matter.


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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

That does help a lot...yes. It will definitely bar my sole means of support as it covers the three counties in my area (3 different states) where most of my job opportunities would lie. The surroundling counties are very small and don't offer programming positions.


My current employer is in Illinois which is why I asked about that state. I live in Wisconsin and my new job offer is coming from Iowa. All three states meet right where I leave and the non-compete shows all three counties. Does that make any difference?

Jane , thanks for the quick reply.

The various employer locations wouldn't really matter. There are slight variations in state caselaw, what they might find enforceable or not, but these factors I listed a really common to all states that enforce non-competes.

Hope this helps. Let me know if I can be of further assistance. Thanks.

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