Gentleman Law helps companies with business issues including non-disclosure agreement and non-compete agreement cases. Contact us today for help.
Non-Compete Agreements Attorney – Chicago, IL
If you are a business owner the last thing that you want is to spend the time and money necessary to train someone in your craft, only to have them leave your business and become part of the competition. At the same time, you probably know that a non-compete agreement (“NCA” for short) that is improperly drafted will not protect your business to the extent that you intended it for. On the other hand, an NCA that is too draconian in its terms may found by a court to be unenforceable, meaning that you have to walk a fine line between having your employees sign an NCA that is fair—and yet provides you the protection you need—and having them sign one that is borderline unconscionable.
Having a great NCA is where a veteran corporate attorney can greatly help you. We have significant experience in the business world and we are able to help you craft the best NCA to fit your situation.
Elements of a good NCA
A good NCA is going to set out activities that are defined as competing with your business. When it comes to this matter, if your definitions are too broad then a court may rule that the NCA itself is unenforceable; on the other hand, if the definitions are too narrow then you may find former employees competing with your business and you are unable to do anything about it due to the existence of a loophole (or several) in the NCA.
In addition to setting out clearly those activities that will constitute competition with your business, a properly crafted NCA will define the area in which your employees cannot operate. For example, if you run a sign painting business in California, you could not legitimately have an NCA that prohibits former employees from operating a similar business in New York City. Such an NCA would be deemed overbroad and unenforceable by virtually any court ruling on the matter.
As such, you need the assistance of a seasoned corporate attorney to help determine the geographic area within which it is reasonable to prohibit former employees from operating. If you make the area too broad, you risk having the agreement invalidated in court; if you make it too small, you risk losing business that you otherwise may have landed to former employees who are operating as competitors.
A good corporate attorney will consider the industry in which your business operates as well as the standard practice of other similarly situated businesses. He or she will investigate the trade and come up with a defensible and enforceable area which the NCA may reasonably cover.
Likewise, a proper NCA will address the element of time. For example, an NCA that prohibits all former employees from ever operating a competing enterprise will likely be deemed unenforceable in court. On the other hand, if your NCA only protects your business from competition for a few weeks or months, you will find yourself facing the possibility of losing business to former employees.
An NCA should protect your business for an amount of time long enough to make it profitable for you to train another employee to replace one who has left your business. At the same time, it cannot extend too far into the future without placing it at risk of being ruled invalid if it is ever challenged in court. We can help you determine what is a reasonable amount of time for the NCA to cover, and we can assist in creating an NCA that provides the maximum amount of protection to your business without becoming overbroad and unenforceable.
Finally, a proper NCA will include an element of damages to cover the breach of the same. If you merely have an NCA that prohibits a certain type of activity within a certain distance of your business for a set amount of time, then even if it is enforceable you will be faced with the potential for costly litigation to determine the damages you should be awarded in the event of a breach.
It saves you time and money to set out beforehand the amount for which a breaching former employee will be liable in the event that he or she breaks the NCA. At the same time, you cannot simply set a high figure as the amount of damages without some justification for doing so; if you do, you may find that the courts refuse to enforce the agreement. In determining the proper damages it is helpful to have an experienced attorney who can analyze the likely monetary damages your business will suffer in the event of a breach and can craft the NCA in such a way as to be upheld in the event of a court challenge.
Creating an NCA is an activity that must be undertaken with care lest you risk having the agreement invalidated in court. We are here to help you address all these concerns—and more—and help you implement the best NCA possible.
Turn to an experienced Illinois non compete attorney for reliable guidance
Gentleman Law has been helping clients with business law and non compete agreements for more than 16 years. Call (312) 741-1039 or contact Gentleman Law online today to discuss your case, free of charge. The office is centrally located in the Loop near Daley Plaza just steps from the Cook County Courthouse and the federal courthouse. Spanish is spoken in the office for your convenience.