A severance agreement is a document often presented to an employee that has been terminated or laid off. Essentially, the idea behind a severance agreement is that an employee agrees to take something of value to which he is not otherwise entitled — additional compensation, benefits, or other “in kind” consideration — in exchange for agreeing not to sue his employer.
Signing a severance agreement is almost always a complete waiver of the right to ever bring a lawsuit for anything. It is strongly suggested that an attorney review a severance agreement prior to it being signed since signing it waives significant rights. For example, if you sign a severance agreement but later learn that you were actually terminated because of discrimination, the severance agreement will very likely bar any claim you may have.
Under Florida law, non-compete agreements may be enforced by the employer so long as they are reasonable with regard to time and geographical area, and protect a legitimate business interest of the employer as defined by Florida statute. Generally, restrictions of up to two years and covering areas where the employer actually does business will be considered reasonable by a court. Even where the restrictions in the agreement are found to be unreasonably broad, the court has the authority to modify the agreement so as to impose more reasonable restrictions.
Usually, enforcement of a non-compete will come down to whether the employer has a statutorily defined, legitimate business interest that can be protected, and if so, whether the employee or former employee has used that business interest in such a way as to result in unfair competition. For example, a non-compete may be found enforceable where the employee has taken a copy of the employer’s customer list containing confidential and proprietary information, and has solicited clients or customers using the information taken from the employer.
But just because non-competes are enforced in Florida does not mean that you cannot ever get out of one. Using innovative legal strategy, we may be able to either renegotiate a non-compete or get you out of it altogether.
Breach of Contract
- Employer suing employee: The typical situation is where an employee quits his job but the employer feels the employee still owes certain obligations, such as a duty not to compete, to solicit or to maintain confidentiality.
- Employee suing employer: This is quite common when an employee feels wrongfully terminated or underpaid by the employer.