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Legal Challenges: When and How to Contest a Non-Compete in Missouri

Employment Law

What is a Non-Compete?

A non-compete clause is one in which one party agrees not to enter into or start a similar profession or trade in competition against another party. Some courts, depending on where they are located, refer to these as “restrictive covenants.” A non-compete clause is usually a contract between an employer and a worker.

Typically, it will block the worker from working for a competing employer or starting a competing business. Typically, this is within a geographic area or mileage location. It can also be for a time after the worker’s employment ends. For the duration of the non-compete clause, you may not go and work for a competing employer, start a competing business, or work within a particular geographic area for a specific amount of time. It is important to note that a non-compete clause can also be called a non-compete agreement.

What Professions Typically Have Non-Compete Clauses?

Non-compete clauses and agreements can be found in multiple professions or career fields. Non-competes are typically considered “take it or leave it” contracts, forcing workers to either sign the contract or forego employment.

A lot of different industries use non-compete agreements. Financial services, corporate management, manufacturing, healthcare, and information technology are some of the most popular industries where non-compete agreements are used.

What is The Deal With Non-Competes and Missouri Law?

Missouri has four conflicting concerns regarding non-compete agreements and their issuing. Conflicting concerns must be valid during the issue of the non-compete agreement due to the law.

The first concern revolves around how the workforce must be highly trained, skilled, and profitable without fear that the employee in the non-compete will share the business secrets with the public. The second clause is that the employee must be able to travel to provide for their family and advance a career. The employee must go from employer to employer to advance their skill set. The third clause is that the law favors the freedom of parties to value their interests in negotiated contracts. The National Library of Medicine has more information on negotiating non-competition agreements. They speak on how non-competition provisions typically prevent certain situations from happening and may protect specific information. The last and final clause explains how contracts in restraint of the trade are unlawful. Previous Supreme Court cases explain these cases in more detail.

Do Missouri Courts Typically Enforce Non-Compete Agreements?

Typically, Missouri courts will enforce non-compete agreements if they are reasonably necessary to protect an employer’s customer contacts and/or trade secret information. In order to deem a non-compete agreement reasonable, it must not be more restrictive than necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate interests. Non-compete agreements can also be enforced to the extent that they can be narrowly tailored geographically and only temporarily.

However, it is essential to note that they will be enforced to protect the employer’s trade secrets and customer contacts. A trade secret can be pointed out as any formula pattern, device, or compilation of information that is used in one’s business and gives them an opportunity to obtain an advantage over competitors who do not know or use said secret.

When and How to Contest a Non-Compete in Missouri?

It is often difficult to get out of a non-compete agreement that has already signed. The best way to avoid the obligations of a non-compete is to avoid signing one in the first place, but many employees are not in a position to refuse to sign a non-compete with their employer, whether it is at the beginning of or during their employment. Sometimes, an employee may be able to negotiate (by engaging legal representation) revisions to, or the elimination of, a previously-signed non-compete in connection with severance negotiations at the conclusion of their employment. Barring the revision or cancellation of a non-compete by mutual agreement with the employer, sometimes the only way to fight and contest a non-compete agreement is to go to court. This might involve the employee filing a declaratory judgment action in an effort to have the Court invalidate the non-compete (assuming a legal argument for that exists), or else the former employer may sue the employee in an effort to enforce the non-compete. With either path in Court, the waiting process would likely be lengthy and costly. The first step is to work with an experienced employment attorney to review your non-compete with you and advise you on your exit from that employer. And if litigation ensures or appears imminent, your legal counsel can help you prepare for your court date and organize all of the necessary documentation beforehand. It’s essential to be honest with your lawyer and provide them with all proof you can give them during their meetings. Working with an experienced employment lawyer can help you organize your statements together and help you seek the justice you deserve.

Employment Lawyers Can Help You Seek Justice Faster

Here at Riggan Law Firm, we understand how frustrating non-compete agreements can be, primarily if they are being wrongfully carried out and enforced. We want to work with you and help you seek the justice you deserve by hearing your story and working together every step of the way. We know what it’s like to go through this tedious and frustrating process, and you will not be alone at any stage. We have your back and are here to support you and your best interests during this period. To learn more about non-compete clauses, how and when to contest them, and how to transition back into everyday life after a non-compete, contact an experienced employment lawyer at Riggan Law Firm today by calling 314-684-8406.

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