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Reasonableness the key to non-compete agreements

As a business in Cincinnati, in Ohio or really anywhere across the United States, it is imperative that you protect your interests and put forth legal restrictions on your employees to ensure that trade secrets or other vital pieces of information are protected. In this regard, non-competition agreements are an important tool in your legal arsenal. These contracts stipulate that an employee must protect and safeguard the employer's legitimate business interests.

Non-compete agreements can come under legal scrutiny, though. This means it isn't enough to simply get employees to sign these contracts -- as an employer, you also have to substantiate their existence and provide ample evidence as to why you drafted your non-compete in the way that you did.

For example, there are three basic legal requirements for a non-compete to be considered valid. The first is that the employee who signs the agreements had time to consider the contract. The second is that the non-compete protects a legitimate business interest. And the third is that the document is "reasonable."

That third part breaks down into some smaller, but just as important, points. A non-compete agreement must be reasonable in its duration, scope and geographic limitations. Moreover, the contract can't excessively restrict an employee's ability to work in relation to these three factors. If the non-compete is legally challenged and the duration, scope and/or geographic limitations are excessive or unreasonable, then a court may find that the non-compete is invalid or they may change or restructure the non-compete agreement.

Source: FindLaw, "Non-Competition Agreements: Overview," Accessed March 22, 2017

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