Are non-compete contracts allowed in Virginia?

Perhaps you moved to Virginia to accept a job. Or, you grew up in Virginia, but you have recently been offered a position with a company that requires a “non-compete” contract as a condition of employment.

Now, you are wondering, “Are non-compete contracts allowed in Virginia?”

The answer is “yes, in certain instances.” Non-compete clauses restricting the employment of doctors, engineers, sales managers, and other executive-level employees are allowed under Virginia law.

A non-compete contract prohibits an employee from competing with their employer for a certain period of time after they leave the company. Every contract is different. However, common non-compete terms include:

  • Refraining from performing same or similar services within a certain geographic location (e.g., 50-mile radius, the Commonwealth of Virginia, or the United States, etc.) for a certain period of time (e.g., 1 year, 2 years, or 5 years, etc.)
  • Refraining from soliciting the company’s customers for competitive services
  • Refraining from soliciting the company’s employees for competitive employment
  • Refraining from sharing, removing, disclosing, or using the company’s confidential information to compete

Even though non-compete contracts are allowed under Virginia law, a Virginia court will not enforce a non-compete against an employee unless the terms are “narrowly tailored” to a “legitimate business purpose.”

There are many cases where Virginia courts have struck down and invalidated non-compete contracts for lack of reasonableness, overbreadth, over-length, and other circumstances which unreasonably limit the employee’s ability to earn a living. An experienced non-compete lawyer can review the non-compete and provide advice to the employer or the employee on whether the non-compete is likely to be enforced in a Virginia court.