Non Compete Agreements in Massachusetts

The idea that non-competes are not enforceable is a myth. When hired for a new job, some employers may ask you to sign a non-compete agreement. While it may not seem like an issue at that moment, it could impact your chances of finding other employment opportunities in the future.  It is imperative to make sure you understand exactly what you are signing before you sign it.  Having an experienced non-compete attorney review these documents with you before signing can protect your rights in the future.

What is a non-compete?

As the name suggests, non-competes are contractual agreements between you and your employer typically created to prevent you from working with competing businesses for a certain period of time or within a certain geographic area when your employment ends.

In addition to non-compete restrictions, employers may also include additional restrictions as a condition of employment such as non-solicitation of employees or clients and non-disclosure and confidentiality requirements.

Are Non-Competes Legal in Massachusetts?

Contrary to popular opinions, non-competes are still enforceable in Massachusetts.  However,  in October of 2018, Massachusetts passed the Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act (MNAA) that restricts the enforceability of post-employment non-compete restrictions unless they meet certain requirements including the following:

  • Duration generally limited to one year;
  • Garden leave or other mutually agreement consideration must be paid during the non-compete period;
  • Geographic scope is generally limited to areas in which the employee provided services or had a material presence or influence in the past two years.

The MNAA prohibits non-compete agreements for the following individuals:

  • Non-exempt employee (meaning employee eligible for overtime under the FLSA)
  • Employee terminated without “cause”;
  • Individuals under the age of 18; and
  • Undergraduate or graduate students in an internship or other short term employment.

How do I know if I’ve signed a non-compete?

Non-competes are usually signed in the onboarding process of employment, but under certain situations can be signed during your employment, too. If you’ve signed a non-compete after October 2018, in order for it to be enforceable you would have had to receive a copy of the agreement before being given a formal offer or 10 days before you start working—whichever comes first.

These agreements must be in writing and signed by both the employee and employer.  If you’re currently employed and are unsure if you signed a non-compete in connection with your employment, you are entitled to request a copy of all documents that you signed at the time of employment.

How we can help

Under the Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act, both the employer and the employee have the right to seek legal counsel before signing a non-compete agreement. If you are beginning a new job and are unsure if the documents you’re being asked to sign include a non-compete agreement or want to understand exactly what th