Did you sign an employment contract or manual? If you did, you could be subject to a non-compete agreement. Non-compete agreements are controversial contracts that are used by companies to prevent their employees from working at competitive companies, including starting their own business. This post will go over the basics of a non-compete agreement (non-competes) and how they apply to you.

According to PBS, about 40 percent of American workers are subject to non-compete agreements. Unfortunately, most people who sign these agreements do not understand the implications of these contracts. The result, many people are subjected to lawsuits or retaliation when they try to leave their job.

A non-compete agreement means that the worker agrees not to work for a competitor. The non-compete agreement can limit the worker in two ways: by duration and by geography. Most non-compete agreements will last for a couple of years and extend 10 to 50 miles. Courts strike down agreements that place too much of a burden on workers. The reasonableness of the agreement depends on the nature of the employee’s job and the extent of the restriction.

For instance, courts will strike down agreements that last too many years, for instance, 20 years. Additionally, courts will invalidate an agreement that extends too far, for example, 400 miles.

If you signed an employee manual and wanted to move jobs, but you aren’t sure of the impact of the contract, you can call a lawyer to review it for you. An attorney can go over the contract and review the legal implications of the contract. The last thing you need to deal with when you are joining a new company is a lawsuit. An attorney can help you avoid possible litigation and, if you are engaged in a lawsuit, protect you from retaliation. You don’t need to go through a lawsuit alone; an attorney can help.