Noncompete agreements for governmental contractors – what those big legal words actually mean!

Over the last nine years, we have represented hundreds (yes, I think I can say that fairly) of individuals that serve as a contractor to some governmental agency.

No, they are no employees of DOD, or DHS, or the FDA, they are hired by third parties to staff projects, or work for these agencies. And, as is the case in most businesses these days, they are almost always asked to sign a non-compete agreement.

Though the contracts may be carefully crafted using big and useless legal phrases, essentially they all say / mean the same:

  • I promise that even if you fire me, or you lose the contract, and I lose my job, I won’t stay and work for the customer / agency for 1-2 years
  • I promise that even if you lose the contract, and the clients needs me to stay on and finish the work and a third party, I won’t agree to stay
  • I promise to give up good, steady governmental work – even though you jerks lost the bid / contract / work, etc. and place myself back in the job market
  • I also promise to eat dirt and like it.

Ok, so I am being a little snarky. But these contracts are typically one sided, unfair, and a well written one will be binding on the employee, despite the inequity of it.

Furthermore, your client (the agency) is not going to go to bat for you the way you anticipate. The feds don’t love it when their clients are engaged in private litigation.

So, beware. If you sign one of these contracts, it is likely binding even if you are fired or they lose the contract. Also beware, everyone in your industry wrongfully assumes your contract is not binding if you are fired or they lose the contract.

And no I don’t think any Executive Mandate will in any way effect your contract, rights or restrictions under Virginia law.

So, before you sign, call and attorney who understands Virginia contract law.


Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at