As the readers of this blog know, Lauren and I try to share some of the principles followed by Virginia courts when they are called upon to determine the validity and enforceability of non-compete agreements.
We often hear from clients that the non-compete agreement they signed with their employer prevents them from doing the same work for a competitor in a geographical area in which their previous employer did not provide services or products…and the question is, “is the restriction valid?”
While there are no guarantees in life (or in the law), most Virginia courts would find that restricting a former employee from performing similar tasks for a competitor in an area in which the previous employer did NOT conduct any business would be an unreasonable restriction and unenforceable. I believe the correct analysis would be that if the previous employer did not conduct business in a certain geographical area…it would be fundamentally unfair to prohibit a departing employee from doing so.
My Advice: Look before you leap…have an experienced attorney review your agreement before you start working with the competitor. A few dollars spent on the front end might prevent the expenditure of many dollars on the back end.