Is My Noncompete Agreement Enforceable If I Move Out Of State?

Review noncompete obligations carefully before leaving

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When I wrote about How Do I Get Out Of My Noncompete Agreement?, AOL Jobs readers came to me with lots of questions. Last week I answered whether your noncompete is enforceable if you're fired without cause. This week, I answer:

Is My Noncompete Enforceable If I Move Out Of State?

This question may be too far-reaching for you to answer out of hand, but my question is this, I have a noncompete agreement with a company that is subject to the governing law of the State of Ohio. What if I should move out of Ohio and take a position with a company that is also out of the State of Ohio, is the agreement still valid?

If you move to California, the answer is probably no. California doesn't enforce most noncompete agreements. If Massachusetts bans them, you may be safe soon if you move there. In any other state, it will depend on the agreement and what you did. Here are some factors that may affect your noncompete obligations if you move out of state:
  • Geographic area in agreement: Noncompetes are supposed to be limited to the geographic area necessary to enforce any legitimate interest of the employer. If your agreement says that the geographic area you can't compete in is 15 miles from your employer, a specific county or city, or the State of Ohio, then you're in luck.
  • Overbroad: If the agreement applies nationwide, worldwide, or universe-wide, then the company will have to prove a legitimate interest to protect in the new geographic area you choose. For instance, if you were a salesperson whose territory covered Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, they may be able to enforce against you in those areas. If, however, you had no contact with any Indiana customers, no access to Indiana customer lists or information, you may be able to move to Indiana.
  • Antitrust: Remember, the laws allowing non-competition agreements are an exception to antitrust laws, which say you can't have agreements that limit competition. Capitalism and entrepreneurship are the American way, so you can't have a noncompete agreement solely for the purpose of preventing competition. Your employer will need to prove a legitimate interest, like trade secrets or customer goodwill, in order to enforce any noncompete agreement.
If you are getting ready to leave your employer and move to another state, you should talk to an employment lawyer in your state about your rights regarding your non-competition obligations.

If you need legal advice, it's best to talk to an employment lawyer in your state, but if you have general legal issues you want me to discuss publicly here, whether about discrimination, working conditions, employment contracts, medical leave, or other employment law issues, you can ask me at AOL Jobs. While I can't answer every question here, your question might be featured in one of my columns, or in an upcoming live video chat.
Donna Ballman

Donna Ballman


Donna Ballman’s book, Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Fired: Resolve Workplace Crises Before You Quit, Get Axed or Sue the Bastards, was the Winner of the Law Category of the 2012 USA Best Books Awards and is currently available for purchase.Donna is the award-winning author of The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom: Let’s Quill All the Lawyers, a book geared toward informing novelists and screenwriters about the ins and outs of the civil justice system. She’s been representing executives, physicians and employees in Florida, including negotiating severance agreements and litigating discrimination, sexual harassment, noncompete agreements, and other employment law issues since 1986. Her blog on employee-side employment law issues, Screw You Guys, I’m Going Home, was named one of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 ABA Blawg 100 best legal blogs, Paralegal 411’s Top 25 Labor and Employment law Blogs of 2013 and the 2011 Lexis/Nexis Top 25 Labor and Employment Law Blogs.

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I have a company owned tablet that i use daily for work, It is locked so i can never turn the GPS off, even when i am NOT on Company time. What are my legal rights in Illinois?

December 31 2013 at 1:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nice info. Non Competes have been corrupted to limit competition and keep employees. Originally a good idea to protect principals when buying and selling companies, or protecting proprietary information patents and products. It has turned into keeping secretaries and sales people from leaving. I mean what sales person doesnt know or cant find his market today using the internet. Its more intrusive then losing your insurance coverage. I am glad states are banning them it will add competition and open new doors to expansion and entrepreneurship!

December 30 2013 at 9:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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