Non-Compete Agreements in South Carolina: What You Need to Know

Non-compete agreements have been a hot topic in recent years, with many employers requiring employees to sign them as a condition of employment. A non-compete agreement is a legal contract between an employer and employee that restricts the employee`s ability to work for a competitor or start a similar business for a certain period of time after leaving the employer. In South Carolina, non-compete agreements are enforceable under certain circumstances. Here`s what you need to know.

The Basics of Non-Compete Agreements in South Carolina

Non-compete agreements in South Carolina must meet certain requirements to be enforceable. The agreement must be in writing, signed by the employee, and supported by consideration (payment or some other benefit to the employee). Additionally, the agreement must be reasonably necessary to protect the legitimate business interests of the employer, such as trade secrets, confidential information, or customer goodwill.

The agreement must be reasonable in terms of duration, geographic scope, and the type of activity restricted. The duration of the non-compete agreement cannot exceed two years, and the geographic scope must be limited to areas where the employer conducts business. The restriction on activity must be narrowly tailored to protect the employer`s legitimate business interests.

Enforcing Non-Compete Agreements in South Carolina

If an employer seeks to enforce a non-compete agreement in South Carolina, they must file a lawsuit seeking injunctive relief (a court order prohibiting the employee from violating the agreement) and damages. The burden of proof is on the employer to show that the agreement is reasonable and necessary to protect their legitimate business interests.

If a court finds that the non-compete agreement is unreasonable or overly broad, it may refuse to enforce the agreement or modify it to make it reasonable. If the court finds that the agreement is reasonable and necessary, it will likely enforce the agreement and prohibit the employee from engaging in the prohibited activity for the duration of the agreement.

Exceptions to Non-Compete Agreements in South Carolina

There are certain exceptions to non-compete agreements in South Carolina. For example, non-compete agreements are not enforceable against employees who are terminated without cause or who are laid off. Additionally, non-compete agreements are not enforceable against employees who work in certain professions, such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants.

Conclusion

Non-compete agreements can be an effective way for employers to protect their legitimate business interests. However, they must be reasonable and narrowly tailored to be enforceable in South Carolina. If you are an employee who has been asked to sign a non-compete agreement, it is important to understand the terms of the agreement and seek legal advice before signing. If you are an employer seeking to enforce a non-compete agreement, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney to ensure that the agreement is reasonable and necessary to protect your business interests.