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By Louise Herman

It’s common for employers to ask new hires to sign documents when they start a new role. From non-disclosure agreements to severance contracts, there are many files you must review. One in particular that can impact your career is non-compete agreements. If asked to sign a non-compete contract, it’s essential to understand what you’re getting yourself into before signing. Keep reading to learn more about these contracts and discover how a Providence, Rhode Island employment agreement lawyer can provide the necessary guidance.

What Are Non-Compete Agreements?

Non-compete agreements are typical in smaller, more specialized fields. This allows a company to restrict how and where an employee works after their relationship with a company is finished. The main point is to prevent workers in a niche field from taking information from one job to another or starting their own business with the data and resources they reaped from an employer.

These agreements often include details about how long a worker is prohibited from accepting employment with a competitor. It also details a geographical location where they are unable to accept employment. In some instances, employees are unable to work for a competitor, even in the event they would not have to disclose trade secrets.

Non-compete agreements are signed at the beginning of a worker’s time with a company and become enforceable upon termination of the working relationship.

Are These Agreements Enforced in Rhode Island?

Some states, like California, do not acknowledge non-compete agreements as enforceable. This means if an employee in California signs a non-compete contract and breaks it, they would not be held liable because the courts do not consider them legally valid.

In Rhode Island, non-compete agreements are enforceable. However, there are restrictions and limitations regarding their enforceability. There are four groups of workers who are exempt from non-compete:

  • Low-wage earners, defined as earning less than 250% of the federal poverty level
  • Non-exempt workers
  • Graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in school who are involved in internships or short-term employment relationships
  • Workers under the age of 18

Regardless of whether or not they signed a non-compete contract, any employee from one of those groups cannot be held liable if they violate the terms of the agreement as they are non-enforceable in Rhode Island.

Also, the maximum term for a non-compete agreement is one year from the termination date and is limited to the areas served by the employers.

Unfortunately, non-compete agreements can be predatory for some workers, as they can impede their ability to receive employment opportunities. As such, it’s in your best interest to enlist the assistance of an experienced attorney to review these contracts before you sign them. At the Herman Law Group, our dedicated legal team will work to ensure any agreements you sign are valid and fair. Contact us today to learn how we can help you through this challenging time.

About the Author
At Herman Law Group, our focus is on safeguarding the rights and careers of employees and businesses alike. With over 35 years of successful legal practice, Louise A. Herman brings an invaluable dual perspective from representing both employees and employers. This unique insight allows us to effectively achieve successful outcomes for our clients in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and nationwide.