What You Need to Know About Non-Compete Agreements

Jan 28 2019

Non-compete clauses were originally intended to protect companies from losing market share or other private information if their executives took a job with a competitor. The idea is that company leaders are privy to trade secrets and other insider knowledge that a competing company potentially could leverage to steal business or market share, thus hurting the company, its investors, and even its remaining employees.

On the surface, then, non-compete agreements might seem like a good thing, at least under some circumstances. But many employers — including employers in Connecticut — have expanded the justification for non-competes beyond its breaking point, forcing non-competes on not only a company’s senior leadership, but also on rank and file employees.

The Connecticut media has recently focused its attention on a legal case involving a company suing a former employee for breaking the terms of her non-compete agreement by leaving for another job. The individual in this case, though, was not the CEO or a vice president or even a manager. She was a janitor. Even more troubling, this is not an isolated case. Employers have sued many other non-exempt, hourly employees for violating non-compete agreements, including warehouse employees, kitchen workers, hair stylists, and even dog walkers.

Following the media exposure that resulted from the janitor case, the plaintiff-company dropped its lawsuit, explaining that it (now) did not want to restrict the employment of such hourly employees. It’s obvious that the original intent of these agreements has been expanded well beyond any correct and reasonable interpretation of protecting proprietary information. The situation is made worse here in Connecticut by the actions of the courts and the inaction of the Legislature.

A recent editorial in Connecticut Law Tribune opines that the Legislature has not done enough to restrict non-compete agreements to their original purpose. In neighboring Massachusetts, for example, the non-compete agreement parameters are more narrowly defined.  Among other things, non-competes in Massachusetts do not apply to employees who are terminated without cause or laid off or to employees who are classified as non-exempt under federal wage and hour law.  Employees must be given time to consider the covenants before deciding whether to sign them.  And in order to be enforceable, the covenants must offer employees “garden leave,” which means that employees are paid while they are unable to compete.

Let’s say you are offered a job and told to sign a non-compete agreement. You believe that you won’t get the job if you don’t sign on the dotted line. That’s the time to consult with an attorney with expertise and a successful track record in employment law, including non-compete agreements. Employment agreements are complicated, and you need to know and understand their content and potential consequences.

If you have questions about non-compete agreements, please contact the experienced Connecticut employment attorneys at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti, P.C. We’re here to help.

Share this Post

What You Need to Know About Non-Compete Agreements

You deserve justice. We are here to fight for you.

Let Us Review Your Case

We will respond to your message promptly. Although we will keep your message strictly confidential, please note that contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Client Experiences

During a very difficult employment situation, I was referred to Joe Garrison. Recognizing the volatile and time sensitive nature of my employment situation, Mr. Garrison met with me immediately (on the weekend no less). He listened to the details of my case, was able to think through possible creative solutions to offer the employer, and was responsive to my myriad of questions. He understood my concerns about litigation versus settlement, and he worked to find the best resolution possible. I am grateful to have had his support at a very difficult time. —J.C., New Haven, CT

Ethan Levin-Epstein represented me during a most painful and challenging crisis in my personal and professional life. Seeing me within 24 hours of being referred, his support and advocacy, wisdom and clarity not only resulted in a favorable negotiated outcome for me and for my family, but gave me peace of mind and the courage to recover. I am very grateful to have met Ethan and his team and would refer anyone in need to this haven. — C.L., Guilford, CT

You will never meet a more knowledgeable and compassionate professional than Steve Fitzgerald. My employment situation was very complex, and Attorney Fitzgerald kept me focused while remaining extremely adept and “thinking on his feet.” Should the need present itself again, I would never seek anyone else’s counsel regarding employment issues. I cannot recommend him highly enough. — J.R., New Haven, CT

Nina Pirrotti provided outstanding legal advice and was trustworthy, dependable, and responsive. From the start, I was confident that her knowledge and experience would obtain favorable results. On a more personal note, I enjoyed working with her and her staff and felt I was included in every part of the process. The dedication, concern, and interest in me as a client was greatly appreciated, and Nina has earned my highest recommendation. — J.H., Monroe, CT

I recently found myself in need of a lawyer in handling a dispute with my former employer. I was fortunate to retain Josh Goodbaum as my legal counsel. His legal skills knowledge and professionalism shone through in every step of the process resulting in a very positive result. I highly recommend Josh if you find yourself in need of legal counsel. — S.R., Guilford, CT

When I go to a lawyer for advice, I am usually anxious, particularly the first meeting. Amanda DeMatteis was clear in describing my options and immediately set me at ease. Realistic assessment is important, and Amanda was clear as to how to set up the case and the direction she felt we should go. I had total confidence in her abilities and knew I was being well represented against a large corporation. More importantly, we were successful! —N.M., Haddam, CT

Proven Results & Personalized Attention When You Need It Most

American Law Institute Super Lawyers American College of Trial Lawyers Best Lawyers The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
Back to Top