Trade Secrets & Noncompetes
Noncompetition agreements are written restrictive covenants. Employers may have employees sign noncompetition agreements to protect a legitimate business interest of the employer. However, these agreements must be for valuable consideration such as employment or, if signed after the start date of employment, in exchange for monetary compensation or substantial promotion. Noncompetition agreements must be reasonable as to time and place or geographical restriction. Additionally, the language found in a noncompetition agreement is strictly construed against the drafter, which means that any ambiguity or overly broad language is interpreted in favor of the employee.
Employers may also require employees to sign a confidentiality agreement as part of their employment. Confidentiality agreements provide protection against the distribution of trade secrets or information considered private and valuable to the employer. These agreements can be made part of an employment contract. Confidentiality agreements should clearly state terms to which the employee is bound and steps the employer may take if the agreement is not followed.