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Seattle Non-Disclosure and
Non-Compete Agreement Attorney

Non-Competition Agreements, or Non-Competes, were once thought of as something only executives had to worry about.

Today, many professionals are faced with signing a similar agreement upon hire. It may also be referred to as a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) or other post-employment restrictive agreements (e.g. non-solicitation agreements).

 

Before accepting new employment, it is critical for employees to take a moment to ensure that they fully understand what they are signing and how it will impact their ability to transition to new employment.

Are Non-Compete Agreements Enforceable in Washington?

Washington courts will enforce non-compete agreements so long as they are “reasonable.” To determine whether a non-compete is reasonable, the courts will consider the scope, duration, and geographical territory. Also, the courts will want to make sure the restrictions are (i) narrowly tailored to protect a legitimate business interest and (ii) not detrimental to the public interest.

How Can an Attorney Assist With Your Employment Contract?

As employees consider job offers, many do not take into account the potential costs of dealing with enforceable restrictive covenants upon termination. This may include not working for a competitor for 1+ years, not contacting a customer base you helped build, not recruiting colleagues to your new employer, and so on.

Take the opportunity at the front end of employment to understand the potential consequences and to negotiate better terms. Employment contracts are not inflexible documents that you’re just “stuck with” for a year (or more). Whether you’re starting a new job or preparing to leave one, an attorney can help explain the consequences of the agreement and work with you to negotiate better terms as you transition to your next employer.

Is your future employer asking you to sign a non-compete agreement?

206.689.2183

Lauren Parris Watts

Washington Non-Disclosure and Non-Compete Agreement Attorney

The prospect of changing employment can be very exciting, including a sense that you are finally at the doorstop of the job you have worked so hard for. Now is the time to slow down and consult with an employment attorney to perform a thorough analysis of existing employment agreements and obligations, as well as your future employment contract.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Sadly, I have many clients that come to me because they quit their job only to discover they cannot start their new one due to a non-compete.

Non-Compete and Non-Disclosure Agreement FAQs

Are Non-Compete and Non-Disclosure Agreements Enforceable In Washington?

Washington courts will enforce non-compete agreements so long as they are “reasonable.” To determine whether a non-compete is reasonable, the courts will consider the scope, duration, and geographical territory. Also, the courts will want to make sure the restrictions are (i) narrowly tailored to protect a legitimate business interest and (ii) not detrimental to the public interest.

However, the courts will not enforce a non-compete if …
• the employee makes $100,000 or less a year,
• the employee was laid off (unless they are receiving their base salary for the duration of enforcement of the non-compete),
• the employee did not receive the non-compete in writing before or when they accepted the job; or
• the employee was not adequately paid for the non-compete restrictions (in the event the non-compete was entered into after they started working)

Additionally, if the duration of enforcement exceeds 18 months, the employer must be able to show why a longer duration is necessary to protect its business or goodwill.

Non-Compete Agreements restrict an employee from working for a competitor or creating a similar business for a specified period of time post-employment.

Non-Disclosure or Confidentiality Agreements restrict an employee’s ability to divulge the employer’s proprietary and confidential information, such as details related to the projects they worked on, as well as other details of employment or partnership.

Non-Solicitation Agreements restrict an employee’s ability to solicit the employer’s customers/clients, employees, and other third parties for a specified period of time post-employment.

How Can Non-Compete Agreements Be Fought?

Litigation involving non-compete agreements and other restrictive covenants can be some of the most expensive litigation for employees. Upon filing, there are immediate court appearances, discovery, and multiple court appearances.

Additionally, in some cases the employee is restrained from working with their new employer or starting their new business. Sometimes this restraint is a few weeks and sometimes it lasts as long as the lawsuit (1+ years).

For all of these reasons, such agreements are negotiated before litigation ensues, preferably as part of your separation from your employer.

What Voids A Non-Compete or Non-Disclosure Agreement?

The courts will void unreasonable restrictive covenants. Additionally, the following agreements are void:

  • if the employee makes $100,000 or less a year
  • if the employee was laid off (unless they are receiving their base salary for the duration of enforcement of the non-compete)
  • the employee did not receive the non-compete in writing before or when they accepted the job; or
  • the employee was not adequately paid for the non-compete restrictions (in the event the non-compete was entered into after they started working)

Contact Lauren Parris Watts

If you signed or are considering signing a restrictive covenant upon accepting new employment, contact Lauren Parris Watts today. She can advise you on your rights and work alongside you towards early resolution.

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