I have a contract that states I can’t work any aspect of my profession within 50 miles of any office, or branch office of my current company for 2 years.

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I have a contract that states I can’t work any aspect of my profession within 50 miles of any office, or branch office of my current company for 2 years.

‘Employee shall not, during Employee’s employment and for two 2 years, after
the date of Employee’s Termination of Employment, compete with the company, its
affiliates, or assist others to compete with the company or its affiliates
anywhere withing 50 miles of the Company’s main office or any subsequent Branch
Office in the business of i manages, integrated, or hosted information
technology services.’

Would this hold up in court?

Asked on March 7, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it will fundamentally hold up in court assuming that you resign, quit, or are fired for doing something essentially bad or incompatible with employment (fired "for cause"), like insubordination, absenteeism, stealing from work, assaulting a coworker or customer, defaming your employer online, etc. While courts do not like non-compete agreements or clauses, they will enforce them: they are legal. So long as the company did not arbitrarily terminate you (i.e. NOT for cause), the agreement is enforceable. (If you are terminated not for cause, it will not be enforced, since they are taking away the thing--employment--you were given in exchange for your promise to not compete...unless, that is, you received something else of value, like stock or a bonus, in exchange for signing.) 
However, courts will reduce (commonly called "blue penciling," for some reason of which I am not aware) the geographic scope and duration of such agreements to what is reasonably necessary to protect the employer from former-employee competition. Generally, for a non-former-owner or top executive employee, a duration of 6 to 12 months will be allowed. And courts will look at the area in which the company does reasonably compete or draw customers and limit the geographic scope to that--e.g. for a a hairdresser, where most customers don't travel more than a few miles for a hair cut, a 5 mile radius may be all that is enforced; for a salesman in an industry where salesmen often have an entire state as a territory, the entire state in which the former employer was located or the salesman had worked may be off limits.
So the agreement is enforceable, but is likely too long and a court would cut that duration back; and a court would look at whether 50 miles is reasonable or not.


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