Overly Broad Non-Compete Agreement in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania Courts Almost Never Throw Out Non-Compete Agreements Because They Are Overbroad

Many clients have come to me convinced that their non-compete agreement is unenforceable because it is for too many years, or to too broad a geographic area. Usually, they got that notion from someone they met at a cocktail party, from their aunt's lawyer-friend, or from something they read or heard over the years. In fact, it seems that most everyone I meet believes that non-compete agreements can be thrown out due to their length or geographic scope.

Not true.

In Pennsylvania, Courts Regularly Uphold 3-Year Non-Compete Agreements

First off, courts regularly uphold non-compete provisions lasting up to 3 years. Knowing this, it is a rare agreement that lasts for longer than that. After all, what company needs to keep someone non-competitive for more than 3 years?  So, generally speaking, forget having an agreement thrown out because it applies for too long a period of time.

In Pennsylvania, Courts Regularly Uphold Non-Compete Agreements That Are Broad in Geographic Scope

Many non-compete agreements prohibit working for a competitor located well-outside where the employee actually worked. Generally, that is the case because many companies today have customers located throughout the United States. While a court may "pare down" the geographic reach of the covenant not compete to, say, the tri-state area, they will not throw the agreement out just because it is too broad. And, as a practical matter, narrowing the geographic reach of the non-compete agreement will do the average Pennsylvanian little good. Are you really going to move to Detroit for a new job?

There are strategies one may employ to minimize or eliminate the effectiveness of a non-compete agreement. However, you should not count on having it thrown out due to its length or geographic scope. 

Read more articles about employment law issues at Philadelphia Area Employment Lawyer, a blog by John A. Gallagher.

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