Non-Compete Agreement Lawyers Serving Spartanburg and Greenville, SC
Non-compete agreements are increasingly being used today by major corporations and small businesses across the country, including many with workers in Spartanburg, Greenville and other areas in Upstate South Carolina.
Companies use these agreements to protect against employees taking trade secrets, customers and important confidential information with them when they leave to join competitors or start their own company. They are common in the technology and sales industries.
Even though South Carolina generally disfavors these agreements – also called “covenants not to compete” – they may be enforced in court if they meet a legal test that takes into account both the employer’s legitimate business interests and the employee’s need to earn a living.
If you are either an employer seeking to enforce a non-compete agreement or an employee who believes you have been unfairly restricted by one, the law firm of Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., is available to assist you. Contact us today to arrange for a consultation.
Does Your Non-Compete Agreement Meet South Carolina’s Five-Factor Test?
In most cases, a state or federal court in South Carolina would apply state law to interpreting the validity of a non-compete agreement.
However, some national companies with branch offices in Upstate South Carolina may have agreements that require applying the law of another state. If the agreement in your case violates that state’s law or the public policy of South Carolina, it may not be enforceable.
Under South Carolina law, the test that a court would use to determine whether a non-compete agreement is valid and enforceable would examine whether the agreement is:
- Supported by valuable consideration – If a worker’s employment is conditioned on signing the agreement, it would amount to valuable consideration. However, a mere promise of continued employment without a pay raise or contract may not pass muster.
- Necessary for the protection of the employer’s legitimate business interests – For example, if a company develops software, a non-compete could be necessary to stop a former employee from developing similar software for other companies. A company would also have a valid interest in preserving its sales relationships with customers.
- Reasonably limited in its operation in terms of time and place – A non-compete may be invalid if it places restrictions on former workers for an indefinite time period or covers a geographical region that goes beyond a company’s normal reach. For instance, if a company does business only in Upstate South Carolina counties, it would have no legitimate business interest in restricting a former employee from doing similar work in other parts of the state.
- Unduly harsh and oppressive in curtailing the legitimate efforts of the employee to earn a livelihood – If the non-compete would force a worker to move to a new location or enter an entirely different field of work, it would lean towards being an invalid non-compete agreement.
- Reasonable from the standpoint of sound public policy – If the non-compete contains a provision that would impose a hefty financial penalty on a worker or would deprive a segment of the community from vital goods or services, this may violate public policy.
South Carolina law generally provides that if any part of the non-compete agreement is invalid, then the entire agreement is invalid.
Contact Our Upstate South Carolina Non-Compete Agreement Attorneys Today
If you are an employee who believes you have been subjected to unfair restrictions in a non-compete agreement, the legal team of Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., can examine your case and determine whether it can be struck down.
If you are an employer who is seeking to enforce a non-compete agreement, our firm can help you to seek a temporary or permanent injunction while the agreement is in the process of being enforced. This can prevent the employee from doing harm to your business while a court decision is pending.
Our firm can also review and assist with drafting a non-compete agreement.
Employers and employees alike may have valid claims for monetary damages as well in a non-compete agreement dispute, which should be carefully investigated and pursued.
To learn more about how we can assist you in dealing with a non-compete agreement issue in Upstate South Carolina, simply contact us today by phone or through our online form.
Sources / More Information
- Litigation Over Noncompete Clauses Is Rising, The Wall Street Journal