Guy Vining of the Vining Law Group, PLC, has extensive experience in representing both employers and employees in drafting and litigating employment agreements and non-competition agreements. This experience dates back to 1998 in a Genesee County matter in which he successfully assisted an employee in avoiding an injunction which would have prohibited him from working in his chosen field/occupation for 2 years within 100 miles of his former position.
It is very interesting to note that it was not many years ago when such contracts were absolutely illegal! The courts refused to enforce them because they were considered against “public policy.” After all, such contracts were restrictive of trades, business and pursuit of free competition, foundations of the free enterprise system, and all things American.
That changed with the enactment of so-called Michigan Anti-Trust Reform Act (MARA). Although MARA has a dignified name the impact of it was to allow non-competition agreements to protect established business from their employees. As in all things, the outer limits have been tested and many times employers have pushed too far and tried to obtain concessions which are sometimes draconian and many times, in reality, unnecessary. The touch-stone therefore of MARA is that a non-competition agreement will be enforceable if reasonable, as to:
- Reference an employer’s reasonable competitive business interests;
- Reasonableness in duration, area and time; and,
- Reasonable in light of the circumstances under which it is made.
In particular, MCLA 445.774a provides as follows:
Sec. 4a. (1) an employer may obtain from an employee an agreement or covenant which protects an employer’s reasonable competitive business interests and expressly prohibits an employee from engaging in employment or a line of business after termination for employment if the agreement or covenant is reasonable as to its duration, geographical area, and type of employment or line of business. To the extent any such agreement or covenant is found to be unreasonable in any respect, a court may limit the agreement to render it reasonable in light of the circumstances in which it was made and specifically enforce the agreement as limited.
As an employer, one should be reasonable in analyzing the need for protection, the actual job duties, whether there really is any confidential matter to be protected and the extent of the protection really required. With these considerations in mind your lawyer can tailor an agreement which will be enforceable and accomplish real protection. Over kill will likely antagonize a judge and any good to be gained may be lost from the over reaching.
If you are an employer seeking to draft or enforce a non-competition agreement VLG can help you. Conversely, if you are and employee and need to defend against a non-competition agreement VLG will be able to assist you, as well.
Guy Vining has practiced law throughout the state of Michigan. His office is located in the city of Taylor, Michigan, where he primarily serves the Metro-Detroit area. He has represented employers and employees in employment litigation in the trial court and the appellate courts in the following areas: whistleblower, breach of contract, public policy, discrimination, wage and hour violation, covenants not to compete, Americans with disabilities action and retaliation