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Are your noncompete agreements reasonable?

As an employer, it is well within your interests to make sure that any intellectual property, as well as loyal clients, are not "stolen" by any former employee after he or she leaves your company. Therefore, it is very important that you include some kind of noncompete agreement in their employment contract.

Occasionally a prospective employee will refuse to sign the agreement. If this happens, you may have concerns and as a result might wonder whether you still want to hire this person. They may pose a risk to your intellectual property and client base. In this situation, make sure to proceed with caution. The refusal to hire them might be permissible depending on the details of the case.

A prospective employee may also say that the noncompete agreement that has been laid out for him or her is an unreasonable one. In this case, it is important for you as the employer to do some research about how to determine whether what they are saying is true. First off, the agreement should be pointing to legitimate aspects of your business that you want to protect, not just arbitrary rules. You should also consider factors such as how long you have put the agreement in force for and the geographical scope.

You have a right to also request that a new employee signs a noncompete agreement after he or she has started working for you. If they refuse to sign, their right to refuse can depend on whether they were threatened or coerced.

When writing or enforcing a noncompete agreement, it is important to pay attention to legal guidelines before making important decisions.

Source: Workplace fairness, "Non-compete agreements," accessed Oct. 18, 2017

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