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Non compete Agreements in New Jersey

Should you sign that non-compete agreement?

It has become fashionable for employers of all types and sizes to require their employees to sign non-compete agreements.  These agreements range from very narrow to very broad in scope.  A non-compete may bar you from working for a competitor, using or disclosing trade secrets or other confidential information, soliciting customers or recruiting the your employer’s customers.  These restrictions generally last from a few months to a few years.  Because signing such an agreement can severely restrict your future employment options, you (and your attorney) should review it closely before doing so.

Can you be fired for refusing to sign that non-compete agreement? 

Yes, according to the Supreme Court of New Jersey.  See Maw v. Advanced Clinical Communications, 179 N.J. 439 (2004).

Will a New Jersey court enforce your non-compete agreement? 

Do not make the mistake of thinking that you can sign an agreement and ignore it later.  New Jersey Courts routinely enforce non-compete agreements that are “reasonable” in scope.  A non-compete agreement will generally be considered reasonable if it (1) protects the legitimate interests of the employer; (2) does not impose an undue hardship on the employee; and (3) is not injurious to the public.

What will happen if you have signed a non-compete agreement that is not “reasonable”? 

If the geographic and temporal restrictions in your non-compete agreement exceed the boundaries necessary to protect your employer, a New Jersey court may modify the agreement by reducing those restrictions to make the agreement reasonable.  See Solari Industries v. Malady, 55 N.J. 571 (1970).

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