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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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Am I violating a non-compete agreement going from working at

Customer Question

Am I violating a non-compete agreement going from working at an Engagement Manager for an IT first to a hospital clinical/nurse recruiter?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

Having reviewed the non-compete, your understanding of it is in line with mine and correct -so long as you do not solicit employees, contractors or clients of your former employer for a period of 12 months from your last day of employment, you are not in violation of the agreement.

Also, for your information - generally speaking, a non-compete agreement will likely be enforceable in Washington if its restrictions are not greater than those reasonably necessary to protect the business or goodwill of the employer. The following are some questions that may be asked to determine if a non-compete will be enforceable:

  • Does the employer have a trade secret or other proprietary information to which the employee had access? Does the employee’s new position directly compete with the former employer? If there is not an identifiable business reason justifying the non-compete, it will not be enforceable in Washington. I don't know -as I'm not entirely familiar with your industry - how closely related your two positions are, but if there is no direct competition, then the agreement is really moot.
  • Did the employer provide employment, special training, or some other employment benefit to the employee in exchange for the promise not to compete? If not, the non-compete will not be enforceable in Washington. They provided you employment, so of course this is valid.
  • Is the scope of the non-compete agreement reasonable? Washington courts will evaluate the length of the time constraint, the geographic area in which the employee is prohibited from competing, and the type of work that employee is prevented from performing. 12 months or less is typically considered reasonable.

Washington courts will likely examine all of these factors and may rewrite or remove overly broad and unenforceable provisions (this is known as the “blue pencil rule”). In other words, if the rest of a part of the agreement were okay, for example, but one section was overbroad, the court could simply strike it out, leaving the rest of the agreement intact.