If my girlfriend is a real estate agent who signed a non-compete agreement wherein she can’t work within 20 mile radius for 1 year after her employment ends, is that enforceable?

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If my girlfriend is a real estate agent who signed a non-compete agreement wherein she can’t work within 20 mile radius for 1 year after her employment ends, is that enforceable?

Wants to work for another real estate company but can’t with the non-compete agreement she signed 2 years ago. She’s an independent contractor.

Asked on March 13, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Non-competition agreements are enforceable, both for employees and for independent contractors. While they will be cut back by the courts ("blue penciled") if they are too broad in geographic scope or too long in time period--the courts do not want to make it indefinitely impossible to earn a living--the non-competition agreement you describe seems as if it would be considered reasonable and enforced. Not working in her field for one year in a 20-mile radius does not seem as it would be considered too aggressive, unfair, or over-reaching, and would most likely be enforceable.

However, every case is different and the specific facts are critical. The above answer is based on general legal principles; but to understand her rights under this particular agreement and set of circumstances, your girlfriend needs to consult with an employment law attorney.


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