If you`re in Oklahoma and have been asked to sign a non-compete agreement, you might be wondering what exactly that means and how it`ll affect your professional opportunities in the future. Non-compete agreements, also known as covenant not to compete agreements, are contracts between employers and employees that prevent employees from working for competing companies or starting their own competing business for a certain period of time after leaving their current position.
Under Oklahoma law, non-compete agreements are generally enforceable if they meet certain requirements. For example, the agreement must protect a legitimate business interest of the employer, such as trade secrets, customer relationships, or specialized skills or information. The agreement must also be reasonable in terms of the time period and geographic area covered, and it cannot place an undue burden on the employee`s ability to earn a living.
The Oklahoma Non-Competition Act (ONCA) provides additional guidance on non-compete agreements. The ONCA applies to contracts entered into on or after November 1, 2016, and it requires employers to provide employees with a copy of the proposed agreement at least 14 days before the employee is asked to sign it. This gives employees time to review the terms and consult with an attorney if needed.
Under the ONCA, non-compete agreements in Oklahoma cannot last for more than two years, and the geographic area covered cannot be broader than the areas in which the employer does business. The agreement must also specify a reasonable liquidated damages provision, which is a predetermined amount of money the employee must pay if they violate the agreement.
If you`re considering signing a non-compete agreement in Oklahoma, it`s important to review the terms carefully and consider the impact they could have on your future job prospects. Some industries, such as healthcare and technology, are known for having stricter non-compete agreements, so it`s especially important to understand the terms if you work in one of these fields.
Working with an experienced employment attorney can help you navigate non-compete agreements and understand your rights and options. If you`re already bound by a non-compete agreement and are considering a new job opportunity, an attorney can advise you on whether the agreement is enforceable and what steps you can take to minimize the risk of legal action.
In summary, non-compete agreements are often used by employers in Oklahoma to protect their business interests, but they must meet certain requirements to be enforceable under state law. If you`re asked to sign a non-compete agreement, take the time to review the terms and consult with an attorney to ensure you understand the impact on your career options.