Are non-compete contracts enforceable in Virginia?

Are non-compete contracts enforceable in Virginia?

Yes, non-compete laws can be enforceable in Virginia, depending on the language of the contract, and what kind of employee the employer is trying to enforce it against.

Many employers regularly require key employees to sign non-compete contracts. Virginia law allows it.

But not every non-compete contract is enforceable. 

Under Virginia law, a non-compete must be reasonably limited in duration, function, and geographic scope. Otherwise, if it is overbroad, then it is likely unenforceable and invalid.

A contract that prohibits the employee from working in an identical position for a competitor in a 15-mile radius for one year? Probably enforceable. But a contract that prohibits the employee from working in any capacity in a particular industry throughout the world for five years? Probably not enforceable.

An experienced non-compete lawyer can evaluate whether a contract will be enforced.

In Virginia, the law of non-compete contracts is constantly evolving, especially in the past five years. A quick example. In 1989, the Supreme Court of Virginia upheld a non-compete at a pest control company. In 2011, the same contract was struck down. Why? The Court has changed its approach to permissible scope.

If you are an employer, your contracts should be regularly reviewed and updated. If you are an employee, check with a lawyer before you sign, or before you move on to a new opportunity.