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In Ohio, a non-compete agreement will generally be enforceable if "reasonable." In determining reasonableness, courts will look at the following factors:
- Whether the employee is the employer’s sole contact with the customer;
- Whether the employee has knowledge of confidential information or trade secrets;
- Whether the covenant is intended to prevent unfair competition or all competition;
- Whether the covenant “seeks to stifle the inherent skill and experience of the employee;”
- Whether the benefit to the employer is disproportional to the detriment to the employee;
- Whether the covenant acts as a “bar to the employee’s sole means of support;”
- Whether the employee’s skill and “talent” was developed during the employment; and
- Whether the employment covered by the agreement is “incidental” to the “main employment.
The problem is that even if you can argue that one or more of these factors apply, none of that will prevent you from getting sued. It simply gives you a potentially viable defense in the event that you are sued. A lawsuit can cost thousands of dollars to defend, and so a "victory" in court may not wind up being much of a victory at all.
So, first you need to evaluate the liklihood that your employer will find out that you are working for a competitor. If the new job is very far away, there is a good chance they may never know and therefore never bring a lawsuit in the first place. But if you think they may find out, you may want to consider being proactive rather than breaching the agreement and just sitting back, hoping not to get sued. Being proactive would entail hiring a local attorney to negotiate a "buyout" from your non-compete. Essentialy the attorney would explain the reasons why the non-compete would not be enforceable in court but offer a sum of money on your behalf in exchange for a release from the non-compete. The amount of money is up to you and your employer to negotiate, but perhaps they would be willing to accept a small sum--a sum that would be much smaller than the legal bills you would incur in defending against their lawsuit, at least. See here to locate an attorney in your area to pursue this approach: http://lawyers.findlaw.com/lawyer/practicestate/employment-law-employee/ohio
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