Missouri Law on Non-Compete Agreements: What Employers and Employees Need to Know
Non-compete agreements are a common practice in the business world, especially when it comes to protecting confidential information, trade secrets, and client relationships. In Missouri, these agreements have been subject to scrutiny in recent years, with lawmakers and courts taking a closer look at their validity and enforceability.
If you are an employer or an employee in Missouri, it is important to understand the state law on non-compete agreements and how they could impact your business or career. Here is an overview of the key points you need to know:
1. Non-compete agreements must be reasonable and necessary
Under Missouri law, non-compete agreements must be reasonable in scope, duration, and geographic area. This means that they should not be too broad or too restrictive, and they must be necessary to protect the legitimate interests of the employer, such as trade secrets or customer relationships. Employers should carefully consider whether a non-compete agreement is truly necessary for their specific business needs and tailor the agreement accordingly.
2. Non-compete agreements cannot be used to prevent ordinary competition
Missouri law also prohibits non-compete agreements that are designed to prevent ordinary competition or stifle an employee`s ability to earn a living. This means that an agreement cannot prohibit an employee from working in the same industry or field as their former employer, as long as they are not using confidential information or trade secrets to do so. Employers should be careful not to overreach in their non-compete agreements and risk running afoul of this rule.
3. Non-compete agreements may be voided if they are too restrictive
If a court finds that a non-compete agreement is unreasonably restrictive, it may void the entire agreement or modify it to make it more reasonable. This could result in the employer losing the protection they were seeking through the agreement, so it is important to ensure that the agreement is reasonable and enforceable from the outset.
4. Non-compete agreements cannot override an employee`s legal rights
Finally, it is important to note that non-compete agreements cannot override an employee`s legal rights, such as their right to work and earn a living. If an agreement is too restrictive or is used to prevent an employee from exercising their legal rights, it may be unenforceable. Employers should take care to ensure that their non-compete agreements are not infringing on an employee`s legal rights.
In conclusion, non-compete agreements can be a useful tool for employers to protect their business interests, but they must be carefully crafted to be reasonable and enforceable under Missouri law. Employees should also be aware of their rights and obligations under such agreements, and seek legal advice if they have any concerns. By understanding the law on non-compete agreements in Missouri, both employers and employees can make informed decisions and avoid costly legal disputes.