Peter A. Steinmeyer, a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice in the Chicago office, was quoted in a February 25, 2008, article in the Chicago Tribune on employers’ increasing use of non-compete agreements to try to limit potential damage when employees leave businesses.
The article, “Non-Compete Clause Tying Hands of Employees,” noted that businesses are turning to non-compete agreements for increasing numbers of employees. “A lot more people are being asked to sign these agreements, and so we’re seeing a lot more disputes over them,” said Steinmeyer.
Employees encounter non-compete, non-disclosure and non-solicitation issues both when coming into a position and leaving it. The forms are often among the papers that new employees are given to sign their first day on the job. Restrictive covenants can get tacked on severance offers in layoffs and firings.
Enforcement of non-competes can be difficult. In some states, including Illinois, courts take a dim view of restricting people’s ability to work. On the other hand, Illinois judges are quick to recognize businesses’ need to protect trade secrets.