If you have been asked to sign a non-solicitation agreement as a condition of employment and have concerns about how it impacts your rights, turn to Castronovo & McKinney, LLC. A valid non-solicitation agreement may prevent you from contacting former customers, clients, or even coworkers once your employment ends.
Although public policy in New Jersey disfavors illegitimate restraints on trade, courts will enforce a non-solicitation agreement if an employer can show that it has a legitimate interest in preventing a former employee from soliciting clients and businesses or poaching employees. Contact our Morristown or Manhattan office to speak with a knowledgeable non-solicitation agreement attorney before you sign anything.
How does a non-solicitation agreement work?
A non-solicitation agreement is typically included as a provision in an employment agreement when entering into an employment relationship, especially for high-level employees such as executives and salespeople. A non-solicitation clause is a restrictive covenant that prohibits an employee from soliciting business or clients from a current or former employer both during the course of their employment and for a set period of time after the employment relationship ends.
A non-solicitation clause also prohibits a former employee from attempting to recruit other employees away from the business. This type of non-solicitation is also referred to as an “anti-raiding clause” because it is designed to protect an employer from a mass exodus of employees to a competing business.
Non-solicitation agreements can also limit your ability to conduct business with vendors, service providers, affiliates, or other entities or individuals that have a business relationship with your former employer.
Non-solicitation agreements not only impose limits on your rights after you leave your current job, but they also can restrict you while you are working for your current employer. For example, a non-solicitation clause can limit your ability to prepare to join another company or start a competing business.
Notably, employees in New Jersey also have a duty of loyalty to their employers. This means that you cannot act in a way that is contrary to the interests of your employer until after the employment relationship ends. The duty of loyalty applies regardless of whether you have entered into a non-solicitation agreement.
Given that an overly broad non-solicitation agreement can be an impediment to performing your next job effectively, it is crucial to have an experienced New Jersey employment lawyer review the agreement before you sign it.
Enforceability of a Non-Solicitation Agreement
Like other restrictive covenants, non-solicitation agreements are generally enforceable, but there are limitations. To be enforceable under New Jersey law, the agreement must protect a legitimate business interest of the employer, such as:
- Trade secrets
- Business practices
- Confidential information
- Customer relationships
- Client lists
The scope of the restriction must also be reasonable in terms of time and geography. Finally, a non-solicitation agreement must not place an undue hardship on the employee or violate public policy. Our attorneys can help to determine whether or not your non-solicitation agreement is enforceable.
What Can Happen When A Non-Solicitation Agreement Clause Is Violated?
The consequences of violating a valid non-solicitation agreement can be severe. The former employer can go to court to obtain a restraining order forbidding the employee from continuing to solicit clients, customers, and employees.
The former employer can also pursue monetary damages. Non-solicitation agreements typically specify the types of damages that can be recovered if the agreement is broken and set a dollar amount for each violation – referred to as liquidated damages. If the employer can prove that the solicitation cost them a specific amount of money in lost business, however, they can pursue that amount through a breach of contract lawsuit.
As you can see, breaking non-solicitation agreements can have lasting repercussions, which makes it crucial to have proper legal representation.
Why Choose Us?
Whether you have already signed an employment agreement that includes a non-solicitation clause, or are being asked to sign one, our employment lawyers can review it, help you understand it, and explore your options. Our attorneys can negotiate with your employer to revise or amend the agreement by clarifying its terms or reducing its scope.
We can also advise you if you have left your job and have questions about the limitations imposed by the non-solicitation agreement. Our employment lawyers are also highly experienced in non-solicitation and restrictive covenant litigation and can help protect your rights if your former employer takes legal action against you.
Our firm also works with small and mid-sized businesses throughout New Jersey to put in place well-conceived employment agreements. We can help your business establish a non-solicitation agreement that protects your legitimate interests, avoids liability, and allows you to attract highly qualified employees.
Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Non-Solicitation Agreement Attorneys
Because non-solicitation agreements limit your rights and can impact both your current job and future prospects, you need the advice and guidance we provide. Rest assured, we will work to protect your interests and your right to earn a living. Contact our office today for a consultation.