I have just ended a very short term of employment. Contingent on starting the job, I was required to sign a contract which included a non-compete clause. However, I was employed for only about 1 month. I left for reasons not directly associated with the position. In the event of litigation, would a Court equitably consider the very short duration as a factor in invalidating the non-compete or minimizing its scope?
It couldn't hurt to bring it up, certainly. Maybe you weren't there long enough for the company to argue that they have a legitimate business interest in keeping you out of the competing marketplace. There are several bases on which to challenge a noncompete. The reasonableness of a noncompete depends on the reasonableness of the time and geographic scope of the limitations, and that reasonableness can even be industry-specific. Without seeing the noncompete and knowing what industry you were in and what your position was, it's impossible to know whether it's a good noncompete or not. Have an attorney look at your contract and advise you.
If my answer was helpful to you, I would appreciate if you would mark it either "helpful" or "best answer" if you feel that applies, as AVVO gives us rating points based on feedback. Thank you! Please note that the above answer is not to be construed as legal advice. It is my personal opinion based on your question, and it was given without obtaining the detailed information that I would normally request in order to render comprehensive legal advice. I advise you to consult with a local attorney of your choosing to obtain specific legal advice. The fact that I answered your question does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and me.
Before I respond to your inquiry, I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion below is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey or Federal law apply, unless otherwise specified.
That being said, a court can consider the short length of your employment, but it is not a required consideration. The nature and terms of your employment, the wording of the contract and where you are working next will likely be of more importance to the Court. A threshold question that must be answered in these cases is whether the employer has a legitimate business interest in enforcing the noncompete - this is where the term of your employment will come up. You would argue that there is no legitimate business interest in stopping you from working, as your short length of employment did not expose you to any trade secrets or protectable confidential information, nor put you in a position to unfairly harm your employer. The facts of your employment and your industry, and your new employment, will be very important in this analysis. See an employment attorney ASAP to review your contract.
/Christopher E. Ezold/
I am an attorney licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the States of Delaware and New Jersey. My practice includes employment, business and health care law. Before I respond to your inquiry, I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion below is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey or Federal law applies.
A court may look at the totality of the circumstances in relation to enforcing your non-compete agreement. As the other attorneys have stated, the employer has to show a legitimate business interest in enforcing the non-compete and the resriction has to be reasonable. To determine this, all facts need to be understood. You should consult with an employment attorney to review your agreement.
Please note that the above answer is not intended to be legal advice. It is my personal opinion based on the information you have provided without obtaining a complete view of the facts as I would to render comprehensive legal advice. I advise you to consult with an attorney experienced in this practice area. The fact that I answered your question does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and me.
If you get called to court you may be able to argue that one month was not a sufficient amount of time for the the covenant not to compete to be used.
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