Q. We would like to hire an applicant who used to work for a similar company, but he has a noncompete agreement with his former employer. We think the noncompete is way too broad—it lasts for three years and prevents him from working anywhere in the country—and we do not believe the work he will be doing competes with any activities of his former employer. Can we go ahead and hire him?
A. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. Under Minnesota law, noncompetition agreements are disfavored, but they are enforceable if they are reasonable and needed to protect an employer’s legitimate business interests, such as confidential information or customer good will.
Anytime an employer hires an employee in violation of the employee’s noncompetition agreement with a former employer, the new employer takes a risk that it will be found liable for tortious interference with contract.
Consult with your attorney before making any job offers to an applicant who is bound by the terms of a noncompetition agreement. Based on your lawyer’s advice, carefully weigh the risks and benefits before hiring an employee with a noncompetition agreement.
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