Imagine this: You quit your job for one reason or another or your boss terminates your employment. A few weeks or months later, a competitor of your former employer’s hires you into a better paying and more respected position. You do not think too much about it … That is, until you receive a court notice informing you that your former employer has filed a civil suit against you for violating the terms of your employment contract, which specifically state that you cannot go to work for a competitor. At this point, you may wonder—are non-compete agreements enforceable in Connecticut?
Unfortunately, according to Senate and the House of Representatives in General Assembly of Connecticut, Connecticut is one of the few remaining states that recognizes non-compete agreements. However, there are certain terms and conditions that may render the agreement void or unenforceable. To determine the enforceability of a non-compete, the courts will consider five factors:
- The geographic area the non-compete contract or provision covers
- The length of time the restriction is in place
- The extent to which the terms of the contract limit your opportunities to pursue gainful employment in the future
- The fairness of the protection the non-compete affords your former employer
- The extent to which the terms of the contract interfere with the public’s interests
In addition to considering those five factors, the judge must also consider the presence of certain circumstances. For instance, a non-compete is not enforceable if your employer terminated your employment for any reason other than your willful misconduct during the course of employment. The Connecticut courts cannot enforce a non-compete if you would be eligible for unemployment benefits upon termination or if your termination violated state or federal policy. The same holds true if your employer terminated your employment for any reason other than just cause.
You should also note that a non-compete is only enforceable if you agreed to it at one of three stages of employment: Upon hire, upon promotion or upon significant changes in circumstances. Even in these circumstances, you employer must have notified you in writing that your employment was contingent upon your signing a non-compete and have provided you with a copy of the agreement.
You should not use this article as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.