Virginia recognizes and enforces non-compete and non-disclosure clauses contained in employment agreements under certain specific situations. The non-compete must be reasonable in geographical scope and length of time. To be valid and enforceable, the non-compete must be designed to protect a legitimate business interest of the employer and not unfairly restrict the ability of the employee to earn a living. Finally, the non-compete agreement must not violate public policy.
We receive calls from clients on a regular basis who tell us they have a non-compete restriction with their employer. However, when we inquire as to the nature of the non-compete we learn that the caller does not have an employment agreement and they are merely an “employee at will.” The non-compete language is contained in the Employee Handbook not an employment agreement.
Employees need to be aware that restrictions (non-compete, non-solicitation, non-disclosure) contained in an Employee Handbook may have no legal or binding effect on their rights after leaving their employment. Make sure your attorney knows the difference between restrictions in the Employee Handbook and an Employment Agreement.