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Non-compete agreements: Are they fair?

If you just got a job in Minneapolis, chances are you were asked to sign a non-compete agreement. What is a non-compete agreement? Simply put, this employment contract places restrictions on the type of work you may do after leaving your position at this company. Such an agreement is meant to protect your employer from losing business after you’ve left the company.

How would this happen? Say you are working for a video game designer. After you’ve left the company, you take the knowledge and skills you learned from your previous employer and use it to start up your own company or work for a competitor. Your valuable skills might then be taking customers away from your former employer.

Is it fair – or even legal – for your employer to restrict your employment options after you’re no longer working for the company? In most cases, yes, companies may do this. According to Entrepreneur, non-compete agreements do need to be fair and reasonable to the employee as well. The time period and geographical area should have limits so you are not as limited. For example, your non-compete agreement may state that you avoid starting up a business related to your former employer’s within the boundaries of Minneapolis only, and/or after five years, you are free to do as you wish.

You may have some negotiating room with your employer before signing the agreement. You might instead request a “non-solicitation agreement,” which would restrict you from luring your former company’s established clients to your company after you’ve changed employment. This type of agreement acts in the best interests of your company and also seems more fair to you in regards to your future employment options.

Employment law is meant to protect both employee and employer. You may find that you both get results you can agree upon when you are willing to negotiate and compromise. This information is meant to give you a general understanding on non-compete agreements, but should not replace the advice of an attorney.

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