Can Non-Compete or Confidentiality Agreements Protect My Business?
Businesses have proprietary information that competitors can use to their advantage and to the detriment of the business. One way to safeguard trade secrets is to have employees sign a non-compete agreement (NCA) or confidentiality agreement. Bellingham employment lawyers can review and help you draft agreements that meet Washington legal requirements.
A non-compete agreement restricts a former employee’s ability to work within the same field for a specified time and within a specified geographical area. While some states have a bright line rule that clarifies the enforceability of an NCA, Washington does not. However, there are guidelines that Washington courts follow when evaluating whether a non-compete agreement is valid. They include:
- The restraint on the employee is necessary to protect the business's interest
- The restraint imposed upon the employee is not greater than reasonably necessary to protect the business's interest
- Losing the employee's service and skills does not unduly harm the public
Washington courts do not uphold non-compete agreements that they find to be unreasonable. However, it may be easier to prove that an employee violated the Uniform Trade Secrets Act by disclosing confidential company information to a competitor. Former employees have an obligation not to disclose trade secrets. “Trade secret means information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process" that provides a company with a competitive advantage.
Discuss your business interests with Adelstein, Sharpe & Serka
, LLP and find out how we can help.