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My wife has been asked to sign a non-compete in Maryland but…

My wife has been...

My wife has been asked to sign a non-compete in Maryland but we are concerned about how broad it is / how enforceable. Of course the employer says they have never had to use it but they are adamant that she signs it and are not open to modifications.

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you discussed the non-compete agreement with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?

Their HR and her immediate supervisor. I had some lawyer friends take a quick look and they had concerns but they do not specialize in employment law and are not familiar with Maryland

Lawyer's Assistant: Are you an "at will" employee? Do you belong to a union?

No union and appear to be at will. She is a salaried proposal manager / writer

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Not off hand -- just trying to find a potential source and also how much a consultation would be

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Answered in 5 minutes by:
6/8/2018
Attorney Wendy
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1,396
Experience: Member at Keefer & Keefer LLC
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Hello. My name is ***** ***** I am an attorney with experience in employment law, including non-compete agreements. If you can attach a copy of the agreement or cut and paste the terms into a reply message, I would be happy to take a look at the agreement and provide any information or thoughts.

​Please note: This information is ​for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship or privilege will be formed as a result of my review and our conversation.

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Understood. I have attached the agreement. The NDA does not concern us. It is the non-compete and how broad it seems to be. Worried that effectively she could end up barred from working in her field (or even related fields) for a year.

Non-competes can provide necessary protection for employers but also impede the employee's ability freely to find new employment. For that reason courts, including the courts in Maryland, require that to be enforceable the agreement be necessary to protect a legitimate business interest of the employer and that the time period and geographic scope of the restriction be reasonable. Here the 1 year period of time will likely be enforceable as the Maryland courts appear regularly to have upheld restrictions of 1-2 years. The geographic limitation (the Mid-Atlantic states) is less clear - being neither clearly enforceable or unenforceable. Generally, a court would prefer the geographic scope be limited to those territories where the employee actually worked or where the customers with whom the employee worked for the employer were located, not merely where the employer has business. The non-solicitation aspect of this agreement is also slightly unusual in that it prevents your wife from going to work (in that 1 year period) for other companies who solicit or contact the employer's customers, rather than prohibiting your wife from so contacting them (in other words it would require your wife at a next job to know who everyone at that business is contacting). All of that said, the agreement is not as restrictive as some and is not outside the realm of what could be considered reasonable.

It is unfortunate that the employer has already stated an unwillingness to negotiate the terms, but that is also not uncommon when it comes to non-competes. The real issue at this point is for your wife to consider whether there are jobs within her field that remain open to her even under this non-compete; if not, what other options would exist should the relationship with this employer end; and, how much she enjoys/wants this job.

Sometimes it is not entirely possible to know if a non-compete agreement will be enforceable until it ends up in a court case, as much of the legal analysis will focus on whether the agreement is protecting a legitimate interest of the employer in a reasonable way and whether it imposes an unacceptable undue hardship on the employee.

The following links are to some websites with relatively good summaries of the law on this issue in Maryland:

https://www.staffordtrialteam.com/maryland-non-compete-agreements-employees-need-know/

http://www.heymanfirm.com/employment-non-competition-agreements-enforceable-maryland/

https://www.ebglaw.com/content/uploads/2014/06/47168_PLC-Non-compete-Laws-Maryland.pdf

I hope this information is helpful. If you need additional assistance, feel free to reply to this email. If I answered your question and provided excellent service, I would greatly appreciate your 5 star rating at this time.

Please note: This information is ​for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No course of action is being proposed and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed as a result of my review and our conversation.

Attorney Wendy
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1,396
Experience: Member at Keefer & Keefer LLC
Verified
Attorney Wendy and 87 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
That you. Very helpful.

You are very welcome. Glad I could help and best of luck to your wife.

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DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

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