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Can a Current Employer Ask You to Sign a Noncompete Agreement?

Can a Current Employer Ask You to Sign a Noncompete Agreement?

When an employer asks an employee to sign a noncompete agreement, it’s understandable to feel apprehensive. This is especially true when such a request comes from a current employer, possibly years into one’s tenure. At Marshall Forman & Schlein LLC, we understand the complexities that accompany these agreements. Our goal is to help you navigate through the intricacies of your situation, providing clarity on what signing a noncompete agreement could mean for your career. With our combined experience in employment law, we are here to address your concerns.

Understanding Noncompete Agreements

At the core of many employment relationships lies a noncompete agreement—a contract intended to prevent employees from entering into competition with their employer after their employment ends. These agreements typically limit former employees’ ability to work in similar industries or start a competing business within a certain geographic area and time frame. However, the enforceability and fairness of these contracts can vary significantly.

The Legality of Noncompete Agreements in Ohio

In Ohio, it is indeed legal for employers to request both new and current employees to sign noncompete agreements as a condition of their employment or continued employment. This practice is upheld by the law, provided the agreement meets certain criteria deemed “reasonable” by Ohio courts. It’s crucial for employees to understand that while employers are within their rights to mandate such agreements, there are limitations to what is considered lawful and fair. It’s also important to recognize exceptions, such as employees who are already covered under union contractors or individual employment agreements. 

For employees classified as “at-will,” who can leave or be dismissed at any time and for any reason, companies are not obligated to offer a signing bonus or other benefits in exchange for a new noncompete agreement. According to a 2004 ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court, the company’s commitment to maintain the employment relationship for even a short period is sufficient to establish a legally binding contract.

Reasonableness Under Ohio Law

For a noncompete agreement to hold up under Ohio law, it must satisfy several provisions. The agreement cannot impose restrictions beyond what is necessary to safeguard the employer’s legitimate interests, such as client lists, confidential information and trade secrets. These provisions aim to balance the protection of business interests with the rights and freedoms of employees. Nonetheless, navigating the fine line between reasonable and excessive restrictions can be challenging without professional legal guidance. Before signing any employment contract, especially a noncompete agreement, it is important to consult with an attorney experienced in employment law. An attorney can help you understand what you’re agreeing to.

Talk to an Attorney About Your Noncompete Agreement

If your employer has asked you to sign a noncompete agreement, don’t navigate this pivotal moment in your career alone. Contact Marshall Forman & Schlein LLC for knowledgeable and empathetic support. Our proven track record, extensive trial experience, and commitment to leveling the playing field in and out of the courtroom make us the ideal partner in assessing your situation. We offer initial evaluations of your case, tailored advice and a strong support system dedicated to defending your rights. Let us help you understand your noncompete agreement and ensure that your career path remains as open and fruitful as possible.

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