Non-Competes

Non-Compete Lawyers in Naperville

What Is a Non-Compete Agreement in Illinois?

In Illinois, a non-compete agreement is an agreement signed by an employee often upon being hired or upon acceptance of a severance package. The non-compete agreement typically limits an employee from competing with his or her former employer during and after termination of employment. It does so by restricting the geographical area in which an employee can work if their new position operates in the same industry as their previous employment.

Often, non-compete agreements will further protect the employer by restricting an employee from using an employer’s confidential information for his or her benefit or for the benefit of a subsequent employer. A typical non-compete agreement says something to the effect that “Employee agrees that he or she will not work for any similar business in the same or a similar role within 10 miles of an employer’s headquarters during employment and for 1 year thereafter.”

The Fish Law Firm has extensive experience helping Naperville residents review their non-compete agreements. Schedule your case review by calling (630) 364-4061.

Are Non-Completes & Non-Solicit Agreements Enforceable in Illinois?

In Illinois, non-compete agreements are only enforceable if they protect legitimate business interests.

A legitimate business interest is determined from the totality of the circumstances, including:

  • the near permanence of customer relationships.
  • the employee’s acquisition of confidential information through his employment.
  • time and place restrictions.

Whether or not a non-compete agreement is enforceable is dependent on the individual agreement at issue. Illinois courts, under certain circumstances, will enforce a non-compete contracts when the terms of the agreement are reasonable. That is, the agreement will be deemed valid when it is limited in duration and geographical scope and when it is narrowly tailored to protect only that information which needs protection (i.e. confidential or sensitive information).

In essence, to be enforceable, the employer must be able to show it has a legitimate business interest in protecting the information it seeks to keep confidential.

Some of the relevant factors in Illinois to determine if a non-compete agreement is enforceable are:

  • whether the non-compete agreement is no greater than required to protect the employer’s business interest.
  • whether the non-compete agreement imposes undue hardship on the employee.
  • whether enforcing the non-compete agreement would prove harmful to the public.

Importantly, in determining whether an agreement is valid, courts attempt to balance the employee’s right to earn a living against the employer’s interest in protecting its information.

A court may deem an agreement unenforceable if it:

  • is overly restrictive.
  • unfairly limits the ability of workers to earn a living.
  • provides for an unreasonably long period of time.
  • seeks to protect information that is not sensitive or confidential.

Some examples of non-compete and/or non-solicitation disputes we have handled in Illinois:

  • Defended a former employee of a large financial institution who sued after he and several people he supervised went to work for a competitor. The lawsuit alleged that our client had stolen trade secrets by taking electronic files, breached his fiduciary duty by soliciting other employees to leave, and violated a non-solicitation contract. We achieved a favorable resolution for our client within 8 months of when the lawsuit was filed.
  • We, along with co-counsel, represented the founder and former officer of a company who was sued for misappropriating trade secrets, violating an agreement to not compete after a buy-out, and allegedly utilizing confidential information. The company sought a preliminary injunction and damages. A hearing/trial was heard before American Arbitration Association in Chicago, Illinois and our client prevailed.
  • Defended a former employee of an Illinois based bank who was sued after it was alleged that he was a loan officer who violated his employment contract and misappropriated bank assets and committed violations of the Illinois Trade Secrets Act. All claims against our client were voluntarily dismissed. (Cook County, Illinois)
  • Obtained dismissal, on jurisdictional grounds, for employee accused of claims under Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) and other contract claims, including restrictive covenants, for joining alleged competitor.

Our Naperville lawyers will go through your non-compete agreement to help you determine if you have a case. Fill out our online form or call (630) 364-4061 to get started today. We also serve clients throughout the entirety of Chicago.

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