When is a non-compete agreement unenforceable?

UPDATED: Jul 24, 2011

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When is a non-compete agreement unenforceable?

I was employed with a cleaning company for 10 months. I am now cleaning on my own. A few of their clients chose to come with me. I just received in the mail a letter from an attorney and a copy of a non-compete agreement. The letter was not sent certified and it was basically written as a scare tactic. I remember that agreement. I was told the agreement meant that I would not clean on the side while employed with them. I was never sent for special training, I was never taught trade secrets and I do not posses a client list. Can this agreement be enforced?

Asked on July 24, 2011 Missouri


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

State laws differ on the enforcement of non-compete agreements.  According to the Missouri Bar: Missouri courts enforce non-compete agreements to protect an employer from unfair competition by a former employee. However, a court will not enforce such a covenant merely to protect the former employer from competition. The enforcement of non-compete agreements is carefully restricted. They are enforceable only if a legitimate protectable interest of the employer is served.

When you say that you "remember that agreement" does that mean that you do not possess a copy of it?  I surely hope you so.  Read it.  If there is no legitimate protectable interest - and I think that here there most likely is none - then you are fine.  This is a wait and see situation.  If they sue then seek legal help.  Good luck.

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