Well the economy is starting to turn for the better and jobs are starting to open up. You may begin to think about changing jobs and possibly moving to a competing firm. However, if you signed any contract or employment agreement when you first joined your current employer, it is very important that you have an attorney review those documents before you give your current employer notice of your leaving.
Below are several very common clauses that are found in employment agreements that need to be reviewed. Failure to do everything correctly could cause you to have no job at all and in a legal battle with your former employer.
One of the first clauses to look for is the confidentiality clause. A confidentiality clause states that you, as the employee, have been given confidential information in order to perform your job duties and that upon you’re leaving the company, you must give all that information back. Further, you may not use any of the information in order to gain an advantage against your former employer with your new employer. These types of clauses are quite common and easy to spot.
The next clause to look for is a non-solicitation clause. This clause prevents you from either attempting to take customers of your former employer for a period of years or attempting to take employees with you from your former employer for a period of years. This does not say that if a customer contacts you that you cannot talk to them. It just states that you cannot contact the customer for a period of time.
So if the customers hunt you down to do business with you, you should be fine.
Finally, one of the most controversial clauses is the non-compete clause. This clause states that you cannot take another job in the same industry (usually with a competitor) within a specific geographical territory for a specific period of time. It is clear that Florida law allows these clauses in employment contracts.
However, the clause cannot be too broad or for too long. Depending on who your employer is and what geographic area you covered while employed, the clause could be legally modified to fit your specific circumstances. A clause that says you may not compete for 10 years within the U.S.
when all you did with your former employer was deliver supplies within one county would deem to be too broad and could be judicially modified to protect your former employers legitimate business interests. That is the key; the clause must protect a legitimate business interest.
Finally, you need to see if there are any agreements between your new and old employer. Sometimes, one may be a vendor for the other. If their business relationship has been put down onto paper with a signed contract, then there may be a non-solicitation agreement within their contract to prevent employees of one going to the other. This happened to a recent client of mine.
So it is very important to go see a business law attorney if you have signed any agreement with your current employer. To learn more about clauses within employment contracts, please set up a consultation with our business law attorneys at Wood, Alter & Wolf, and P.A. to review any signed documents you may have.