Atlanta Employment Law Trial Lawyers
The Restrictive Covenants Act and Enforcement of Non-Competes
A new Georgia law in effect for 2011 has significantly changed the rules regarding non-compete clauses in employment agreements and severance agreements. Under the old law, a court could not alter the agreement — enforcement was an up-or-down decision. Under the new law, a court can "blue pencil" or modify the contract to resolve disputes or ambiguities.
What does the new law mean for employers or employees? Does your non-compete agreement fall under the new or old rules? Is your non-compete enforceable or not? The knowledgeable and experienced lawyers at Feldman Morgado, P.A., realize that these are crucial questions for employers and employees alike. We will aggressively assert your rights and work to resolve your restrictive covenant dispute in a timely, cost-effective and definitive manner.
At Odds Over a Non-Compete Agreement?
Our trial lawyers represent employees and employers in litigation of employment agreements in Greater Atlanta and North Georgia. Contact us today to find out where you stand and what your legal remedies or recourse may be.
Georgia Non-Compete Agreements
The Restrictive Covenant Act was approved by Georgia voters in November 2010 as a constitutional amendment to enact a statute passed in 2009 by the Legislature. The act took effect on Jan. 1, 2011, but it is not retroactive. Parties who entered into non-compete agreements in 2010 or earlier are still bound by the prior "no blue pencil" law.
The courts cannot modify the language of a pre-2011 non-compete agreement. Under the old statute, non-competes had to be very narrowly focused and carefully drafted to be enforceable. The result was that many such agreements were defeated when challenged by employees. One of the most common mistakes is overreaching geographic restrictions. Other non-compete agreements did not stand up to scrutiny because the time frame was unreasonably long or the prohibited activities were so restrictive as to effectively preclude any employment.
We can review your non-compete drafted under the old rules and advise on where you stand. We counsel employers seeking to protect trade secrets or employees seeking to move on to new opportunities with other companies.
The Restrictive Covenant Act
Under the RCA, courts are allowed to modify an overly broad non-compete agreement by striking out provisions that would otherwise make it unenforceable. However, the court cannot add language or provisions.
Other key aspects of the RCA that differ from existing law on restrictive covenants:
- Non-disclosure agreements need not specify a time limit on confidential information.
- Non-solicitation is broadened beyond customers with whom the employee had actual contact.
- Non-compete agreements are deemed enforceable against only certain key employees defined in the RCA, not simply anyone who worked for the company.
These key aspects are an oversimplification of the new rules. The knowledgeable attorneys of Feldman Morgado are glad to explain your rights under the new or old rules for non-competes and other restrictive covenants in employee agreements. Managing shareholder Mitchell Feldman, who oversees our Atlanta office, is admitted to practice in state and federal courts of Georgia.
Discuss your Non-Compete Rights with an Atlanta Contract Law Lawyer
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss non-compete agreements and the RCA. We aim to negotiate a solution but we are prepared to go to court to break an unreasonable covenant or to enforce a valid non-competition clause.