In Colorado, non-compete agreements are hard to enforce

With a few exceptions, non-compete agreements tend to be difficult to enforce under Colorado law.

Non-compete agreements are a growing, but controversial, area of employment law. While such agreements help businesses protect their interests and trade secrets, if they go too far they can end up making it difficult for an individual to find work and earn a living. As PBS Newshour reports, close to 40 percent of Americans have signed a non-compete agreement, but unfortunately many of them, and even quite a few employers, are unaware of what such agreements do or whether they are even enforceable. Below is a look at the thinking behind non-compete agreements and their effectiveness in Colorado.

Employer vs. employee rights

A non-compete agreement places restrictions on where and for whom an employee can work after they leave a place of employment. Such restrictions are generally designed to protect the former employer from having their trade secrets exposed to a competitor by a former employee or from having wasted resources training a new employee only to have them take those new skills to a competing business. Non-compete agreements will generally prohibit an employee from working for a competitor for a certain period of time after they leave the business and within a certain geographic area.

Non-compete agreements are very controversial, especially when certain companies use non-compete agreements to make it difficult for even low-level employees to find new work. A sandwich restaurant chain in Florida, for example, made national headlines recently when it used non-compete agreements to prevent its sandwich makers from working for any competing restaurants.

Non-competes in Colorado

Laws concerning non-competes vary quite a bit from state to state. While in Florida such agreements are fairly easy to enforce, in California these agreements are almost always thrown out by the courts. Colorado is one of the states where non-competes are difficult, but not impossible, to enforce.

As C.R.S. Section 8-2-113 makes clear, any agreement that prevents a person "from engaging in any lawful occupation at any place he sees fit" is prohibited in Colorado. However, the law provides four exceptions to this prohibition: for executive and management personnel, for recovering expenses related to training or educating an employee who was with the business for less than two years, for protecting trade secrets, and during the purchase and sale of a business or its assets.

Employment law help

An employment dispute can be costly and disruptive for both employers and employees. Anybody involved in such a dispute should get in touch with an employment law attorney for assistance today. An experienced attorney will be able to provide clients with advice on how to proceed with their case and help them resolve their dispute in a way that protects their best interests.