You signed a non-compete agreement with your employer. Now, you want to go to work somewhere else. What are your options?
Mississippi courts disfavor non-compete agreements. The courts prefer a free marketplace. They want people to be able to change jobs and compete.
The courts will, however, enforce such an agreement when it is reasonable in scope and duration.
A reasonable scope and duration vary depending upon the circumstances.
The term “scope” means two things.
The first is the geographic area described in the agreement. For example, “the entire state of Mississippi” describes a geographic area.
The second is the conduct the agreement prohibits, such as “anything to do with the insurance business.”
The term “duration” simply means how long the agreement remains in effect.
In Mississippi, non-competition agreements must meet two tests. First, the scope and duration must be reasonably necessary for the protection of the employer. Second, the agreement cannot impose undue hardship on the employee.
This rule requires the court to perform a balancing test.
How can I determine if my non-compete agreement is valid?
There is no single test that determines the validity of the agreement. The following factors, however, will come into play:
- Courts are more likely to enforce agreements of short duration rather than long term.
- Employees who know confidential information about the employer’s business are more likely to be held to a non-compete agreement.
- Agreements with smaller geographic areas are easier to enforce.
- Employees who are lower down in the chain of command have a better chance of defeating a non-compete agreement.
- The courts are unlikely to enforce a non-compete agreement if the employee has been unfairly fired.
Also, read here about non-solicitation agreements.
If you have a non-compete agreement and/or non-solicitation agreement and want to change jobs, contact the Panter Law Firm for a consultation. 601-607-3156