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The employee may challenge the noncompete agreement by establishing that its restrictions are excessive (apply to too wide a geographic area, apply for too long a time period, or restrict too many types of employment), or otherwise are not reasonably necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate business interests. In such cases, the court may limit the restriction to only that which is reasonably necessary to protect such interests. There are additional defenses to noncompete agreements.
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Many employers require that their new hires and existing employees execute noncompete agreements. Noncompete agreements and their enforcement through litigation involve very high stakes, particularly for the employee who faces a temporary, or perhaps permanent, loss of livelihood. Not only is litigation often unpredictable and time-consuming, but it also becomes emotionally and financially draining for the employee. Employees presented with noncompete agreements should seek representation with an experienced employment attorney who will review the document carefully and discuss the consequences of possibly being bound by legally enforceable restrictions on future employment in their chosen field.
However, most disputes over noncompete agreements arise long after the agreement has been signed and the employee has moved on to another job.
Florida courts will not enforce a noncompete agreement unless it is in writing and signed by the employee. The employer seeking enforcement of a noncompete agreement must establish the existence of one or more legitimate business interests justifying the noncompete provision. The employer must also establish that the language in the noncompete is reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate business interests justifying the restriction.