I have been told that this is beyond extreme, and would easily be defeated in court, being as the employee's only background is in this certain industry, unfortunately the employee quit this place of business for a new job offer out of the industry, and the new job would have been near the employee's main residence, which would have ended the 740 miles of travel to work every week, the new job offer was rescinded because of budget issues, should the employee contact employer with the contract and explain the situation, and talk with them about releasing the contract or go straight to an attorney and let the attorney handle the situation? Do understand that this contract was signed by the employee only to keep the job when the former employer purchased the business.
You're right that a non-compete for 15 years and 400 miles surrounding one geographic location would likely not be enforceable. The general rule is that a non-compete must be reasonable with it's time and geographic limits. Courts favor an employee in these situations and, after all, employers can't limit a former employee's ability to work and make a living. However, there's more we need to know about this situation. If the employee lives 740 miles from Green Bay, is he or she still attempting to work there, in that same industry? In other words, will the non-compete be applicable to the new job? If it will and the employee can't get a job because of the non-compete or the employee is afraid he/she will be in breach of the non-compete, then the employee should contact an attorney right away and explore his/her options.
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It makes sense to go to a business contracts attorney, who can represent you and help you to get out of such a restrictive non-compete, which would be unenforceable.
There are a good number of attorneys you can find on Avvo who do a great job negotiating non competes. I agree with the other two attorneys. This particular non compete seems outrageous. There is a good number of Wisconsin Supreme Court cases that discuss the rules and limits of non competes.
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This, from the facts you've listed here, appears to be a covenant not to compete that is unreasonable. However, the law in this area is constantly in flux, and just because one section of the contract is unenforceable, does not necessarily mean that other are. Contact an attorney to look it over and discuss your options. Our office handles a number of these and offers free consultations.