Effective Challenges to Non-Compete Clauses and Unfair Severance Packages

Strong advocacy for Tennessee employees who need all their financial and competitive assets

Employers must treat employees who leave a company fairly. Their right to protect their business assets has to be balanced against the right of the employee to start a new job or begin a new business. Non-compete clauses cannot completely restrict the employee. They cannot be too broad or be enforced when the business is not in jeopardy. Severance packages have to comply with written contracts and appropriate statutes and wrongful discharges can be challenged.

At Gilbert Russell McWherter Scott Bobbitt PLC, our Tennessee non-compete and severance package lawyers have extensive experience contesting unfair employment practices. Our experience allows us to use a wide variety of legal strategies to make sure employers comply with the law and that employees get their just compensation. If your employer is trying to pressure you to leave the company, or limit your ability to work, the Gilbert Firm is ready to fight for all you have worked for.

Non-compete clauses

Non-compete clauses, also known as restrictive covenants, are work contract agreements in which the employer tries to get the employee to agree not to compete with the employer when the employee leaves the company. Employers like these agreements because they means less competition for the attention of the buying public. Employees do not like the agreements because they directly affect their ability to earn a living.

Employers also try to get the employee to agree not to use any knowledge acquired during the work relationship such as trade secrets, business practices, marketing strategies, and other competitive advantages. Good will is also a reason behind non-compete clauses. Employers do not want employees to use the company client lists and other good will assets.

A Tennessee non-compete attorney at the Gilbert Firm understands that courts review many factors to decide the validity or invalidity of non-compete clauses. Our main goal is to help the employee work at what he or she does best without any restrictions. Our Tennessee non-compete lawyers use some of the following strategies to challenge restrictive clauses:

  • The restrictive covenant does not have a proper geographical limitation. Employees should be able to compete if they live far away from the employer’s business. Far away does not mean across the country. A small radius of 20 or 30 miles can often suffice. Our firm argues that failure to have a proper geographical limitation completely invalidates the non-compete clause.
  • The clause is not limited in time. Non-compete clauses cannot last forever. Any restrictive agreements that last more than a year or two are suspect and can be challenged.
  • The new job does not compete with the old job. The farther away from the former job duties the new job is, the better case the employee has.
  • The employer breached the contract. Any breach by the employer may invalidate the whole contract, including the non-compete provision. Failure to pay overtime, travel expenses, or commissions can open the door to negotiating a better deal or defeating the clause altogether.
  • The employee did not work with the company long enough. Employees who worked just a few weeks or month likely gained very little knowledge and should not be restricted.
  • Lack of consideration. Employers who seek to add the non-compete clause after the job starts have to give the employee something in return. Saying they will continue to keep the employer hired is not enough.

Severance packages

A severance package is an offer of pay and benefits when an employee leaves a company. Many severance pay packages offer a week’s salary for each year the employee worked for the company. Packages can also include payment for unused sick time or vacation time, stock options, insurance benefits, and other benefits. Severance packages can also be offered to employees who do not have an agreement. The employer may be trying to downsize the company or may be trying to minimize liability.

Severance packages are voluntary unless they are part of a written contract or a collective bargaining agreement. A Tennessee severance package attorney at the Gilbert Firm will seek to enforce each and every term of the agreement. If the employer is in breach of other parts of the contract, we may seek to renegotiate the terms of the severance package.

Our firm brings challenges to severance packages on the following grounds, among others:

  • Noncompliance. The severance package does not comply with the terms of the written contract or the collective bargaining agreement.
  • The severance package violates some law. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or other laws may be of some assistance. The Tennessee severance package attorneys at the Gilbert Firm know when statutory law may help an employee.
  • The employer has some liability. Employers cannot fire employees if they fail to comply with a written contract. For example, if there are no grounds for termination, the employer cannot fire you.
  • The discharge would be discriminatory. Employers cannot fire employees for reasons such as age, sex, gender identity, race, religion, national origin, or color.
  • The discharge violates some other law or right. If you are discharged because you are a whistleblower, serve on a jury, or are a member of a union, our lawyers can likely challenge the termination.

Get all the benefits you bargained for and that the law allows

The Gilbert Firm protects employees in Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Jackson, and across Tennessee. We aggressively fight to hold the employer accountable and to get you the right employment status and all the work benefits you deserve. To review your case with an experienced Tennessee non-compete and severance package lawyer, please call 888.354.FIRM (3476) or complete our contact form.